Though it’s been a long time coming, I’ve taken the first steps towards rethinking my approach to painting in watercolor.
This is, for me, a big deal. I’ve been working in the medium since I was a kid, and while I don’t pursue watercolor painting with the same industry as pastel and oil, it is part of my life and very appropriate for certain things I want to express.
The symptom I’m responding to is an increasing restlessness, a desire to do something more stimulating and personal in the medium. I like some of where I’ve been over the years, but I would like to see everything with newly overhauled eyes and mind, if such a thing is possible.
Over time, I’ve arrived at a somewhat acceptable outcome for most of my watercolor works, which I seem to produce in a short spasm about twice a year, usually as a break from the bigger oil and pastel pieces. Perhaps because of this lackadaisical effort, only about one in five paintings seems fit to leave the studio, and perhaps only one in those five do I consider among my best. That’s one in twenty five. But what’s bugging me isn’t about numbers. It’s about something in my thinking and my process.
Last week, I dedicated an entire afternoon to sitting alone with about five or six paintings from the last gaggle of wc’s I’ve done. For some reason each was a disappointment or even a failure.
Examining the group slowly, I eventually realized a big part of the problem. My adoption and subsequent reliance upon the conventions of watercolor painting, (helpful standards that I had worked hard to learn over the years) were now getting in the way of my enjoyment of the work itself. There were a lot of criteria I had ingested about what this sort of painting was about, and now it was getting hard to breathe. It was time to lose some weight.
What to let go of?
I’ll go into that in my next post….