Wednesday, July 15, 2009

By Comparison

I was having fun at a pity party the other day. The problem was, there was nobody else there. So, I made the best out of my celebration of misery.

One of the things that seems to happen with development of skill is the consciousness of where you stack up in relation to others. Sad to think of it, that acceptance of my own skills often comes on the back of rejection of perceived flaws in others.

I hope that this rigorous self analysis leads me to humility and patience with others and in particular - with beginners.

It occurred to me some time ago, that I have entered into what is likely the hardest of all painting art forms. I think it safe to say, that watercolour painting is harder to master then painting in oils or acrylics.

I have seen some pretty skilled painters catch onto the techniques of these media, pretty quickly. (a lot faster then I have in waters). And, hard observation has led me to the conclusion that many watercolourists cross media and become successful oil and acrylic painters. But, few O & A painters make the journey in the reverse direction.

I have heard an uncountable number of O&A painters tell me that they "Gave waters a try but found that it wasn't for them." There are many reasons for that. O&A, are stroke by stroke media. When an oil painter is proud of painting loose, it seems to me that that means he/she paints with big, long, strokes. But call it what you may...every single gob of paint which goes into a painting is the result of a single motion.

Waters...well thats another story. I call myself a tour guide with colour. Pre planning and advanced thought is essential for me. I try to determine in advance my pallet, and I do a values sketch of my work, and I try to create some sort of finished image in my mind of my picture. This is the road map I take for my journey.

All of this is essential, for it liberates me from having to make decisions
'on the wing'.

Freedom is important in watercolour painting. Advance preparation gives me the only freedom I understand. But it allows me some flexibility. If the waters aren't taking on the direction I wish, I can 'go with the flow' to a degree and see where they are leading me.

I have rather limited experience in oils. I call my works, turps and a rag, jobs. And, they have given me credible first time paintings...I guess.

When I compare them to my first watercolour paintings.......they are really good. (this comparison doesn't hold up by comparison with the works of other artists).

This gratification of instant success is intensely motivating. And, I suspect that helps explain why few O&A painters make that transition to waters. I think its nigh on impossible to achieve good results from the start in waters.

1 comment:

  1. I think there is a "love it or don't" factor. For some people, watercolour is an irresistible magnet, its magical...its not a diversion or preparation for something else, its "the" thing.


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