Art (Life) Lessons

The how-to’s of watercolour, I am discovering, are applicable to other areas of our lives.

lighthouseInspired by classes I took in Texas, I have continued to try my hand at this art form.  This is what I have learned so far:

  1. Begin with a plan.  We used carbon paper to trace the image’s outline, although as I gain confidence, I am starting to do my own sketching.
  2. Designate a step-by-step approach.   Start with the background and work inward.  For the picture on the right, we did the sky first, prepping the area to be painted with water before dotting in the sky colours, noting that nothing is ever one colour.
  3. Remember that less is more.  It’s easier to add more colour later than to take it away once it birchtreeshas dried.  Getting it right the first time around is not the objective.  Leave room for changes.
  4. Honour the process.  Use gentle strokes of the brush, letting the paint do the work.  Try to let go of preconceived ideas and be open to what emerges.  Sometimes ‘mistakes’ lead to new revelations.
  5. Be patient. Allow time for the paint to dry before approaching an adjacent area.  Art takes time.  Breathe and relax.
  6. Don’t be afraid to experiment.  Mix colours to get the desired effect.  Create depth by layering.
  7. Remember perspective.  Add shading to account duckartfor the effects of light.  Emphasize objects that are closer.
  8. Step back.  Give your work some distance and time, especially if you are feeling frustrated.   Take a photograph; it will give you some objectivity.
  9. Save the details for last.  When you’ve paid attention to all the others steps, then putting on the finishing touches is just icing on the cake – and a great feeling.  
  10. Keep going!  Skills sharpen with practice, as does confidence and creativity.  Don’t give up.

Note:  The top two paintings were completed with the guidance of a teacher.  The third is my first attempt to venture out on my own.  While I am dissatisfied with the finished product, it did teach me a lot, perhaps to be discussed in a further post.  The featured image of the little bird is perfect for practicing technique.



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Permission to write, paint, and imagine are the gifts I gave myself when chronic illness hit - a fair exchange: being for doing. Relevance is an attitude. Humour essential.

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