Well intentioned friends warned me, “Watercolor is so unforgiving. Do oils. You can push them around all day!”
“Cure for perfectionism” is how my teacher described it.
The fact that there was a teacher involved tells you I ignored the warnings.
Everything I knew about painting with watercolors I’d learned on YouTube. I figured it was time for an upgrade. A rank beginner, I enrolled in a two-day workshop, invested in a lengthy list of supplies and headed off to class, my precious 3 sheets of over-sized, 140# cold press Arches watercolor paper flapping in the wind beside me.
Two days later, I have (1) had a lot of fun, (2) shown some improvement (with plenty of room for more) and, mostly, (3) gained an even greater appreciation for the form — not necessarily for the reasons one might think.
Less Is More. Watercolors don’t benefit from being over-worked. The less you fuss, the better. I think this is an excellent life strategy.
There Are No Rules, Only Consequences. This was my teacher’s line and I loved it: she showed us all the ways we could really play with the medium — and then deal with the consequences. Having “consequences” dressed with a positive, playful mantle alone was worth the price of admission.
Watercolors Are A Metaphor For Life. This is one of those activities in which things will go wrong — it’s a question of when, not if. The art and artistry are all about making the most of what comes at you. I appreciate that – and love that I can use an art form to practice what I consider an essential life skill.
Colors! Fabulous Colors! Gone are the anemic ghosts of my youth. Real watercolors are bold and beautiful and vibrant. I gained a particular appreciation for good materials (paper, brushes, pigments) this week and will never look back. Even when we worked in “black and white” (our own mix of gray, created from our limited palette), the hues were lovely.
Process Over Product. This was another line from my teacher. She cautioned us not to worry about looks, just to learn from the how. (For me, it may have to be about process over product for a long time. But that’s okay. Probably better that way.)
I Look At Things Differently. “No rules” notwithstanding, there are some basic techniques for painting with watercolors and I find myself looking at objects and scenes around me thinking, “How would I paint that?” Watercolors help me see my world through new eyes. What more could I ask?
Pushing oils will have to wait. First, I think I might want to learn how to draw…