Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Watercolors Show and Tell

This is Pharaoh, a long-haired sweetheart we lost
to cancer four years ago.
       All my life I've felt I had artistic talent, but my parents never encouraged the interest when I was a kid, and as an adult I never could find time to test the waters. When I turned fifty, I decided to find out if I was delusional. I enrolled at Lansing Community College in the Fine Arts program. My son started taking classes there about the same time. I remember his horror at the thought of being in the same Figure Drawing class with his mom. The models were human and nude! We wound up taking the class from the same instructor but during different semesters. He received an A, of course, and I was more than a little relieved to earn one also, one of only two the instructor awarded in my class. I freely acknowledge that my son is a better artist than I, but it was satisfying to have someone tell him (and me) that, yes, I am talented.     
Cockatiel, from a photo I took at the zoo.
      Drawing is cool, and what my prodigy does best, but my thing turned out to be watercolor.  I enjoyed all my art classes and earned an associate degree as a part-time student, taking most classes at night. My watercolor teacher was, of all things, a professional psychologist. He wouldn't let his students see any of his work until toward the end of the semester. He didn't want to encourage students to copy his work, but to develop their own styles. One of his first lessons involved dealing with "mistakes." You've probably heard that in watercolor you can't correct mistakes. Maybe not, but you can incorporate them into your work as part of the design. He tried to instill the idea of making the paint itself do most of the work, to "draw tight, paint loose." I have trouble with this. I want to be in control. I don't go for random drips, or paint running all over the paper.
        Have you ever seen a good nude in watercolor? It's amazing what can be done with this medium. No, I haven't done nudes, but have completed several portraits on commission. Getting a good likeness without overworking the paint is always a challenge. I do animal portraits and flowers too, and have included a few of those here.
       Most of my work, and all of these examples, is done from photo references.
       Truth to tell, I haven't painted in a few years, having been so tied up with gardening and landscaping. I hope to change that this winter. I could use some encouragement.
       As always, please note that for some insane reason I can't comment on my own blog or anyone else, for that matter. Your comments are welcome and will be addressed on my Wall.

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