I began drawing and painting when I was young. Art was my first love, even before writing (but only by about a year). My parents were mystified that I could do this - neither of them had an artistic bent, nor did my sister. No one knew where it came from.
In 4th grade Patty Klenk and I were picked to take part in a citywide program where students from various schools would study at the art museum. I was proud to have been chosen, tho I have no memory of the classes.
|Painting at the kitchen table as a teenager.|
In high school Judy Norris did an oil painting of a woman in a wheat field that was remarkable. I realize now that Monet was her inspiration, and she did it in a way that dazzled me. I did a vase with flowers. It didn't dazzle me.
I was always better at oils, acrylics and sketching than watercolor because I liked the preciseness of those mediums. But I have always loved the looseness of watercolor, the elusiveness of it. I love that it's the opposite of precise. I've taken some classes over the years but exactly a month ago I developed a (pandemic) passion for learning watercolor. I've taken Zoom classes, I've watched a gazillion YouTube demos, attended live demos online where you paint along with the artist, I've bought hundreds of dollars worth of supplies, I've bored my Facebook friends with some of my paintings. I felt proud of my early efforts because I was conquering something that eluded me for years. But I knew they weren't my best, not if I kept learning. And I was right.
Watercolor has taught me so much, not just about the medium but about life. Here are the lessons I've learned from watercolor painting:
- Patience. I like to start something and finish it in one sitting. You can't do that with watercolor - you have to apply the paint in layers and let it dry in between.
- Don't take shortcuts. You can speed up the drying with a hairdryer but it can bake the paper and it will change the result. I learned to let it dry on its own.
- What I did today won't be what I see tomorrow. When a painting is thoroughly dry it will look very different from how you left it. I have done some work that I thought I would throw away but the next day it had transformed into something beautiful. Watercolor is like that - it surprises you if you give it time.
- Thoughtfulness. You have to plan your image. You have to decide in what order to add the various values. You have to leave some open spaces and take your time with the rest of it before you add those pieces, so they don't get muddy or contaminate the rest of the color.
- Look at the world. I find myself studying the world around me more than usual, looking for subjects to paint, studying trees and shrubbery, noticing all the varying shades of color in everything we look at, examining how shadows fall and what color they are. And more. I find I do this with photography as well, seeing things through the camera lens and how it will be perceived. Now, I look to see how I can interpret it in watercolor. The world is presented in a new light because I am painting.
Once is not enough. When it's not, it's okay to do it again. Sometimes it takes 2 or 3 or more
Maybe I will try again, maybe not.
attempts to create a painting that reflects what's in my head. I may not like everything in my first attempt , tho as I said earlier it often looks better the next day. If it doesn't match my vision of it I can do it again. And again. I
kind of like to see the progression of those paintings.
- Be brave. When I start a new painting I mostly sketch it out in pencil first. Sometimes I might go over it again in ink, if ink and watercolor is the technique I'm using. Regardless, when I'm happy with the sketch I often find myself waiting a day or two before beginning to fill it in with watercolor and I realized it's because I'm afraid I'm going to ruin it. But then I sit down and begin. Sometimes I do ruin it, and that's too bad, but often it can be fixed. Or it becomes something I wasn't planning but something I still like.
|Worth another attempt.|