Thursday, May 5, 2011

Speak to Me!

"Windy on Deck"-watercolor on paper

Recently, when painting with a friend she asked why I was using oils and not practicing what I had learned at my last workshop with Mary Whyte which was watercolor.  Well, I commented, "did you see the failure last week?"  I had tried the week before and had less than desirable results.  I made mud and other horrible, horrible things.  This week I had retreated to something less demanding.  Something more forgiving.

But what she said struck a nerve.  I had learned much in my head, but as of today had not been able to apply it to my satisfaction.  I tried but I kept failing and found excuses to move away from the failure. My friends words kept echoing back to me and when that happens I know what I have to do! Those thoughts are there for a reason!

So I began to apply the paint as I had seen and heard Mary do.  I remembered: "Float the paint over the first wash".  Float, we had asked?  She explained, she demonstrated.  I tried, made mud.  I reasoned that it was impossible to put complimentary colors together and get clean color.  But I had seen it done!  I was pretty sure it was magic and only a hand full of people possessed such a power!  So I tried again, made more mud...eventually I asked myself why I was doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  (isn't that the definition for insanity?)  So, I thought, do what you know how to do and you will not be so frustrated.  So instead of trying to conquer the technique I did what I know how to do the next day and what I made was what I always make-WHICH IS WHY I TOOK THE WORKSHOP IN THE FIRST PLACE!  To change what I always do and have better language to communicate with!  Argh! 

After a few long agonizing painting sessions I have to say I had a breakthrough.  I think I get the "float" factor!  A lot of scrap paper and paint later but I think I may have mastered it for today.  Tomorrow?  We will see.  But this day and this painting have what I learned stamped on them.  I think I learned it.  Now I need to keep using my new skill so I don't loose it cause I sure worked hard enough for it! 

Besides learning a new skill I learned something less concrete.  I learned how to find my artistic voice.  Mary challenged us to decide before we began what we wanted to say in our painting-there is always a reason you want to paint a certain thing!  Find that and learn how to tell the viewer what it is!  "If you are not excited about your painting, others will not be either!  Your passion will show through your work!" (Mary-ism)

And that my friends is the lesson I think I really want to share with you all.  Speak!  And speak to me!  What do YOU think I was trying to say in this painting?  What was so interesting or captivating I had to paint this painting?  I think it's clear and I think I communicated my excitement!