Thursday, May 17, 2018

Intermediate Watercolor 5/17/18 Before you make a painting...

It's no surprise that painting requires a different kind of observation from most other activities. Of course we all practice thinking about how we might turn a stirring scene into a painting ("What would I do first? Then what? Wet or dry?"), but that, too is not quite the same as how we see when we have brush in hand. This is especially true when we are setting up to paint en plain air.
The various factors that are in play can be very subtle, like sensing when you are getting close to the right moment to stop making branches on a bare tree. Often the qualities that are needed are in opposition to each other, like enthusiasm and patience, or detachment and engagement, making balance the essential ingredient.

In the park yesterday everyone began with a page of quick and simple observations - nothing ambitious - like the warm-up exercises an athlete does before getting involved in a real game. Not much is at stake, no one is keeping score of the stretching we do to get ready to paint a proper painting.

The painting that follows a warm-up period is often relatively well balanced, and also bold. With nothing to lose, we are more likely to push beyond the limitations we usually impose on ourselves. Stretching, indeed.

 Palm fronds look active and graceful, never stiff or precise. Painting them very carefully seems unlikely to lead to a tree that is dancing. 
The way to do justice to a palm tree is revealed in territory you may not have explored yet. Risk is definitely involved, but there is no scorekeeper.
have fun

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