Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Why Watercolor?


    Why would I choose to do watercolor, the medium touted as the most difficult to work with?
The short answer is that it's inherently beautiful! Unfortunately I have no long answer, but I'll try.
    I believe my first ever painting was actually made on a gessoed board intended for oils found
abandoned in a closet. It was of a cornucopia and apples found in a cookbook and was painted in "dry watercolor" style - very little water. I knew nothing! I bought a handful of student tubes and
went at it.
    Not too far down the line, I happened into an artists gallery in downtown Boston and became
enchanted by these vivid watercolors with playful outlines in ink. Their simplicity was powerful!
Mostly, the scenes were local, if memory serves. Wow! That was my moment. So I bought some pan watercolors, a brush, and a pad of hot press paper. Still, I knew nothing! I painted what I inside the apartment kitchen with childish accuracy. As stiff and pallid as my results were, I couldn't  lose! I had those greys, yellows and burnt siennas glowing back at me!
    As I set out to learn more I treated all information as all-important, all-to-be-heeded gospel.
And every tiny example shown was right and something I should learn. I was a babe in the woods. But, eventually I grew my skills and graduated from Beginner status. I had disheartening moments
of failed results or efforts, but I never thought of giving up watercolor.
    When people say, "Watercolors are hard", I know they're just saying they are less controllable or predictable. The medium contains more variables. The learning curve is steeper. You have water to paint ratios and edges that can bleed, sometimes where you don't want. You can't paint over and hide what you don't like. You can't go lighter, only darker. You often have to think in reverse and go light to dark. And you have to save your precious vulnerable white paper. Oh boy, you talk about sacred!
    Timing becomes a factor, and you can't just walk away anytime you want due to the drying factor of watercolor. Your edges might dry on you and leave hard lines where you didn't want. You get a califlower effect when you put wet paint into a damp area. And then there's the variety of papers, possibly adding a whole new bucket of frustrations!
    But, ahh! With a different mindset these frustrations become challenges, and less so with practice! You can put a brush to wet paper and watch magic as it bleeds like a happy child running in a field, making trees for you! Then you can dip in another color and watch them dance and meld. When dry you can glaze over them still and alter the colors. Throw salt or splatter water into the damp wash and whatch texture appear effortlessly!
"Bottle 'n' Grapes", w/c, 6"x 8"

    Watercolor glows, dazzles and entertains. Its luminous, stained glass effect can enchant any eyes that dare to ponder its mystery. It both pleases and frustrates, allures and disappoints. 
I have thrown things, kicked things, screamed at the painting for "ruining my life". I've stabbed it with the back of my brush, and ripped it up in passionate revenge. But, despite these moments, I wouldn't have it any other way. It's watercolor, it's beautiful, and it's mine!