Javier Hermida

Free Watercolors

Watercolors in 25 x 32.5 format, free theme.

Abrazo Álamo Gordo Alcornoque Almeces en invierno Albión Almez verde Aristocracia Bailarina en descanso Bodegón qatarí Bosque de colores Cabeza con poto Camino Nuevo Casa de la Luna Chica bermeja Chico al sol Clavícula Cóctel en chanclas Costilla de Adán Cuello con raíces Dama con tarta Desnudo alegre Dos olmos Encina seca Ermita Espalda Oriental Estola Eucalipto viejo Fauno Frío Gardenias


In the 18th century, watercolor painting gained popularity as a beautiful technique. Fragonard, known for his quick execution and varied, brilliant palette, was one of the artists who enthusiastically embraced this medium, which lends itself to a free and light manner. However, this enthusiasm was short-lived. Watercolor was forgotten during the First French Empire and the Restoration, and the technique was relegated to England, where it became a favorite.

This quote comes from the book “Techniques and Secrets of Painting” by J. Bontcé, published by LEDA Ediciones de Arte in 1950. It was a gift from my neighbor and good friend Manuel Silva, a well-known painter from Alcalá, whom I visited every summer afternoon to watch him paint. I was twelve years old, and he was already an old man with a terrible tremor, who, curiously, painted miniatures in oil. His shaking would vanish as soon as he touched the tiny medallion. Concepts like “quick execution” and “varied and brilliant palette” from the book filled my head with questions and promises. Without the Internet back then, I couldn't see those “free and light” watercolors, nor could I enjoy English watercolors until much later. It was my dear uncle Paco who sparked my interest in this dazzling technique by giving me a very basic set of colors, which I naturally had to try and experiment with. I discovered, painfully, that the technique was tricky, water was uncontrollable, and watercolor had seduced me forever.

Later, thanks to the marvel of the Internet, I finally got to see watercolors from all over the world, from all periods, and by artists dedicated to the medium. I also learned that J. Bontcé was the pseudonym of a woman, Mercedes Bonet Mercé, a dedicated promoter of artistic techniques who probably had to adopt, or was given, a pseudonym to seem more credible.

Mercedes also wrote in the same book:

In the most classical and purist form of this technique, only transparent colors diluted in water are used; the effects of light are achieved by the white of the paper without any intervention of white pigment.

More mysteries, more complications, more challenges for a dilettante like me. I took that rule, of not using white pigment, as a sacred prohibition, an inviolable commandment that contained some kind of venerable wisdom. To the challenge of controlling water, which has its own rules and whims, was added the ban on using white, under penalty of cheating. And the struggle with this “beautiful technique” became an initiatory path where one had to suffer necessarily to reach a certain state of final harmony, a state that never came, since water, pigments, paper, and brushes add limitless categories of entanglement.

Even today, many years later and with hundreds, thousands of watercolors in my repertoire, a blank, well-stretched, and pure piece of paper, whose touch is already evocative, represents a difficult challenge to undertake, and one whose outcome cannot be guaranteed. That is why I like to accept the challenge and place the watercolor stains understanding their own rebelliousness, controlling only their clean beauty (the transparency, the edge of the stain, the sincere color, the elegant blends) and wait for them to dry to see what they tell me and what they want to become on the canvas. This intention fuels the present collection “Free Watercolors,” which, with the only requirement of format, informs the viewer of the curious, restless, and expectant nature of its author. Even using white pigment if necessary.