I’m thinking about watercolor
This morning I was up early for a mixed media art class, in which I study and paint in watercolor. (Oh yuk! More water stories.) With Daylight Savings Time over, I still am waking up at my usual time. So I had time to think about my next project.
I had a huge piece of sturdy watercolor paper that I wanted to paint on. I’d kind of decided to do a bouquet of red sunflowers. I gathered some photos on the web and went to class to work out how I would do it. After spending an hour and some cutting out a group of sunflowers (which weren’t the same size), I realized that I couldn’t create the painting that way. No matter how I placed the cutouts on the marvelous piece of paper, I couldn’t make it work. Not at all. I was so disappointed. I was looking forward to painting those red leaves striped with gold and their deep black/purple curly leaves. But plan A was a wash. I was so glad I had cut out the flowers to arrange them instead of just starting to draw. I put them aside. It wasn’t going to work.
However, I had a vase of those sunflowers at home. I needed to photograph them in the base. Maybe that would give me the forms I wanted to paint - but I had to go home to photograph them and I didn’t want to leave class. So I picked up the other photos I had brought for inspiration.
I had brought a primitive street scene, the sunflowers, a photo of a quirky house in summer, some boats on a lake (that drew me to it, but I didn’t feel like painting it), and a man and a young woman walking with their faces away from us.
That street scene drew me, but I’ve always had a problem with perspective. People tell me that after a while you just do the perspective naturally. Me, I have to get out the ruler and draw lines and puzzle out where the lines belong and what is connected to what.
When it was my turn to have the teacher to talk to, I told her my conundrum. She’s always talking me out of my comfort zone and that’s what she did today. She explained how I needed to do the perspective and reminded me that I’ve done other things equally complicated.
There are a lot of incidental people in that painting and I looked forward to drawing them. We talked about what I needed to do to improve on the painting. (Yep, improve the painting. It isn’t enough that I’m copying to learn the work of someone else, I’m planning to improve on the work.
Actually these paintings are often just a portion of another work. Something that can be taken from another work to be a bit of art itself. So the artist has maybe not given this part her full attention. Other parts of the painting were more important to her.
But me, the student, I want to take this portion of a painting and make it something I can be proud of.
So, the end result of this class was that the sunflowers I’d brought weren’t going to work, a discussion of perspective, a bit of schmoozing with the other students, and a bit of watercolor paper still pristine, mounted on a board and ready to go, but only the outline of the size I want it to be written on it (and it won’t show).
So, be proud of me. I’ve made my watercolor decisions and will begin to draw out the painting.