Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Painting, Part 1: Reflecting on Watercolors

 I want to learn how to paint.  This isn't a new development, I've actually thought about it for many years.  But even though I have a goal to become a painter, I have never really have focused on this goal.  Sure, I have looked at the painting classes offered at my community college.  But the drawing prerequisites have always scared me off.  I'm just not brave enough to go in a class and where I have not only draw, but then present my work for critique.   It's true, I'm a wimp. 

I did manage to overcome this back in 2002 when I took a watercolor class.  I love watercolor paintings and was so excited for this class.  I thought it would be an easy thing to learn.  Wrong!  The class gave me a new respect for watercolor artists. The good ones are truly amazing, because painting with watercolors is hard! 

I knew from the start of this class that watercolors and I were not going to get along to well.  You see great watercolor paintings require the use of white space.  And I am not good at leaving white space.  I want to cover the entire paper with color.  Once my teacher showed me how to start painting an apple.  She did the outline and left a small spot of white as a reflection.  Then the she told me to keep finish it.  First thing I did, paint over that white spot.  She just shook her had and walked away.  Opps!  Another problem I had was adapting to the fact that watercolors do not allow you to add light colors to areas where you have painted with dark colors.  I like to layer my colors and when I make a mistake I want to be able to let it dry and simply paint over it.  This cannot be done with watercolors. 

Although I had a good time painting things like this

and this:

I really wanted to paint pictures like this: 

The Open Barn by Roland Lee 

But I was just a beginner, so my paintings ended up like this:

Now I know I cannot compare my work to a professional like Roland Lee, but I wish the shading on my building was more like his.  And I wish I could have fixed the shadow I tried to paint coming off the roof.  But this was watercolors, so I couldn't just paint over it.  I'm sure if I took the time, I could learn the techniques needed to overcome these problems.  I may never be a Roland Lee, but I am sure I could be happy with what I produced.  But to be honest I really want to work with a paint where I can put it on thick and create real texture.   And I just don't think there is way to to that with watercolors.  That's OK.  I'll just keep playing with paint until I figure out what I'm looking for.

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