Have any of you painted a watercolor before?
I have to say my absolute favorite part is removing the tape that holds down the paper while painting. Crazy or am I right?
Ya see, the entire time you’re painting you have this ugly tape wrapped around your image. Especially this one. I have bright green and blue tape glaring at me. Then you paint over it and it just looks messy. Maybe you’ve painted a room in your house before? It’s the same thing. At the very end, when you’ve committed to being done, you get that chance. The chance to peel off the tape and glance at a clean white border (insert music depicting God shining through majestic clouds Ahhhh…)
It’s the small things you know. It always is.
Watercolors for some reason come pretty easy to me. The use of color, pushing and pulling the water and creating transparent objects – Dare I say I actually find them fun and frustration-free. A couple of years ago I walked away from doing watercolor still-lives altogether. I struggled to see the point. Again, It was my never-ending saga of trying to figure out what I was communicating to the world. That constant gnawing question or should I say mind-ramble: What does an observer learn, contemplate or experience through my art? The answer couldn’t simply be beauty. There has to be more to it, right? Existentially speaking, there has to be more to art-making. Like what is my purpose on earth? To be an artist? How/what does an artist contribute to its society? For those of us who want to live a life of service, what am I giving to the world? I thought still lives were too basic. Too boring, obvious, and trite. This art-making must be harder and more complex than still-lives right? And there I went yet again, down the rabbit-hole abandoning one thing in search of the thing not known…
This very question has left me wandering aimlessly for the past three years. And still, I have not found the answer. I have in the mean time frustrated myself, pretty much made pennies on a dollar, suffered a pretty bad bout of depression and I’ve come out with fewer answers and direction than I came in with.
I’m tired. I have no answers, but I do still LOVE to make art.
I’m in a state of surrender. I can look back at this time and say I have been thinking my way through the answers. Instead of feeling my way through or knowing. Feeling and knowing are quiet practices. The quiet place where intuition lies. I don’t do quiet very well. I don’t practice stillness very well. Dare I say I have doubled-down on their opposites.
It’s welling up from within me though. Not the answers that I am seeking, instead that I am going about it the wrong way.
Surrender. Get quiet. Be still.
I can no longer drown them out and hit acceleration. I need peace. I need reflection time. Meanwhile, I shall continue to paint. I guess watercolors are the most peaceful way for me. At least for the moment. They require a lot less thought and a lot more just-Do. Like a practice.
Well, on that long-winded note, let me show you the painting I did last week:
Peaches 16 x 24
I left my feet in the photo to give you a reference of size and proportion. I love creating everything larger than actual-life. Mainly because it gives me great big spaces to swirl paint around.
There were a few things I forgot since I last water-colored. Instantly, I realized I had the wrong paper. I used watercolor paper but it had a smooth-tooth to it. The water and paint stayed on the surface instead of absorbing and bleeding which I prefer. I suffered through this painting, but went and bought new paper for future work.
The other mistake I made was buying a watercolor brush set on-line. The brushes wound up being synthetic and could only hold a third of what a high-quality horse-hair brush can carry. The brushes I started with were so bad, I literally put down the brush, picked up my keys, drove 40 minutes to the closest art store and hand-picked some real beauties. Totally worth the drive and delay.
So I think I worked out the kinks. I now have the right paper and the proper brushes. I’m ready to dive in to some more complex subject matter and we’ll see what I come up with. All the while, I’ve turned off my radio. No music. No news. No podcasts (my go-to distractions).
I’m sitting in silence and taking some much-needed deep breaths.
Back to baby-steps…