Pauma Valley, San Diego I
When I start a studio painting from a field sketch or a reference photo, I go at it with full confidence and much excitement but my semi-conscious mind always knows it may or may not work. For one thing, watercolor is such an elusive medium. Oftentimes, if a painting doesn't work out, it's too difficult to salvage or rework it.
A painting may look good at first but it can lose a certain flow at some point and initial enthusiasm may quickly fade. An experienced watercolorist will know then how to get back in the flow quickly, or even to take advantage of the unexpected and take it to a new direction.
It's not easy to do for those of us who may not have years and years of training in this craft. But the lesson we can learn from them is that we have to be always in control. The minute I feel that all-too-familiar sense of panic ("Oh, this is not going well" or "Oops, I am ruining my painting"), I take a deep breath, and remind myself of the initial excitement that made me want to do the painting. That gives me a boost to my confidence. Or, if I feel too tired, I put down my brushes right away and leave the unfinished painting for a few days or even a few weeks. Later on I can usually see more clearly how I can pull it off if at all possible.
I started this painting but I felt it was not working. So I put it away and made another painting of the same scene, which went well. But ten days later, I was able to see where I was going, change the course, and somehow pulled it together.
Pauma Valley, San Diego I
Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in. (on 9 x 12 in. paper)
6 Responses to Pauma Valley, San Diego I, California Landscape Painting
I am diving in First Frday June 4th Plein Aire
from 12:00 -7:00 pm. 1st Prize $150
@ the Eau Gallie Sq next to Brevard Museum.
Should I take a sketch approach. I want to do as many paintings in the time available.
Haven't painted in Watercolor for a long time
will spend time with "wet on wet" process the next few days
I love the magic of the FLOW as you call it,
Staying LOOSE is not easy. Details last
Love this part of Your Blog
Keiko, your description/narration here of the process of watercolor painting is the most appropriate to poetry-writing I've ever come across. It is wonderfully helpful and hopeful. Thank you! I have saved it to my files for constant reference----and for when, particularly, I feel that initial "white page" terror or the later "Oops!!" reaction. ;-)
Hi Dave (so sorry for my slow response), Judy. Thank you very much for your kind comments. Whatever we create is a reflection of who we are and how we feel about the subject. Viewers may or may not know but I think it reveals more than that - how we feel about us as an artist, for instance. I'm glad you enjoyed this post!
Thank you for these further profound insights, Keiko! Again, they correspond and resonate deeply with a poet's world.
"Whatever we create is a reflection of who we are and how we feel about the subject. Viewers may or may not know but I think it reveals more than that - how we feel about us as an artist, for instance."
Hi Judy, thank you for another thoughtful comment. It's really interesting to hear what you say as a poet. I hope I didn't sound like someone who knows how to overcome obstacles during a creative process. In fact I don't know how many failures I've made, but I learn a lot from them, too. Maybe "don't be afraid of mistakes" is the best thing for me to remember.
'Maybe "don't be afraid of mistakes" is the best thing for me to remember.'
That's brilliant, Keiko! We've been so accustomed to trying to do things perfectly, the best we can, better than before, and so on, that we dread mistakes. Yet, as you so truly note, you learn a lot from mistakes. In fact, many times a mistake turns out to take us to a new depth, understanding, creative corner-turning. Almost as if too much thinking and "editing" can bottled up and suppress the essential freedom that our vision has in store for us and for our works.
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