New Beginnings #2


Watercolor 14″ x 20″

It would be very rewarding indeed if all the efforts over the many years are paying off, and I am finally getting the hang of this soft and gentle medium. I am certainly enjoying the doing of it, and the pace too. You have to be quick and gestural and trusting on the one hand, and then careful and patient and attentive on the other. And you have to allow the paint and water to do their thing, so you can’t be too controlling.  And you know pretty quickly whether or not a piece is working, unlike oils, which can take weeks and months before you know it’s either come through and works, or doesn’t, and never will.


New beginnings


Watercolor, 14″ x 20″

It’s not often that I’m happy with a watercolor, but I’m happy with this one : ) After a few weeks of daily dedication, from dawn ’til dusk no less, and ne’er a picture to show for it, and that fortnight on the back of years of abject failure in this medium, that’s saying something.

And although the house is full of resplendent lilies and regal orchids, I’m drawn to these ‘weeds’ that only last a few hours in the morning…they’re probably simpler than the more showy flowers, and they’re in the garden, so I get to sit with the bees as they visit these flowers, and paint in between showers, as it’s pure rain we’re getting this weekend. Heaven on earth.

Orchid Study #1


Watercolor, 20″ x 14″

There is nothing more exciting than a well painted watercolor, which is why I continue to try with this subtle and sensitive medium, despite so many disasters over the years. My dysfunctional relationship with this soulful paint is to pick up a brush and immerse in it for a week or two, and then give up in frustration and leave it for a year, or two, or three…yet here I am again, enjoying the slow quiet process of it, with little to show for it but mud and garish overworked rejects.

This time around I am especially determined as I’m teaching a block on Watercolor Flowers, so have been studying watercolor artists’ work for a few weeks now in an attempt to break it down to step-by-step basics. If I can instruct in the foundation at least (and so far the students’ work is divine), then perhaps I too will learn something and have a breakthrough. I bought an orchid last week, and for the last week I’ve done near to a dozen studies of it, all beginning with promise and ending in disappointment. Yesterday I changed the palette, and that has helped, as the hues are more subtle and these new colors are non-staining, which has been SO much more forgiving. This one has come together better than the others. Still not there as a good watercolor, but I can see I’m learning, slowly. And it’s given me inspiration to continue with this subject and palette, and I can see a triptych emerging.

I’m enjoying the time and still hopeful that one day this medium will be a more natural and expressive conduit, as not only is good watercolor (a rare sight to behold) so gorgeous, but it’s also a relatively quick medium which promises to be a great way of working out ideas for large canvases in oils. I know this has been a traditional approach for many artists over the centuries, but not one I’ve ever used, and I think it would greatly benefit my work, so well worth the time investment to get it right…