Friday, September 11, 2009

Beginning in Watercolours - Biting the Bullet

The first time I picked up a paintbrush, I knew where I was heading.
I watched with amazement as colours flowed from my brush onto paper.

Within a few sessions, my first watercolour teacher, took me aside and asked "Can you see yourself as an artist, selling your works professionally."

Yes! Yes! Yes!

There was only one problem. As the kids say. I sucked! My first paintings were terrible. They were so bad that I was embarrased by my lack of skill. Whatever Maggie saw in my art was puzzling. The only thing that kept me going was sheer, mindless, determination.

I have since learned that I wasn't alone in being shocked by my lack of competence in watercolour art. I have talked to many painters who decided on the strength of their first futile attempts that watercolour painting was definitely not for them. Fortunately, the one thing that life has given me was an ample supply of patience. And trust me, it has taken a lot of patience - and hard work to see my development.

Why then does watercolour painting attract so many 'entrance level' artists? Go into any major bookstore and you quickly discover that watercolour painting books vastly outnumber books in acrylics or oils. Watercolour classes for beginners abound. But yet when the grain is sifted through the seive and the chaff is blown away there seem to be relatively few professional watercolour artists left over. Watercolour paintings in galleries seem few and far between.

What is there about watercolour that attracts so many beginners?

The answer to that is embedded deep in our childhood years. Almost all of us come into art with experience in painting in colouring books and water based paints in school. If we could paint in waters as children, then surely watercolour painting must be much easier for an adult to learn.

But yet, when we bite the bullet in watercolour art - we had better be careful which way we aim it, for as any serious student of watercolours knows, its a tough media to learn! But the rewards are great for those who persevere.
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