I finished the class with the hope that I could get started painting watercolors on a more consistent basis. I did well in the class. When the course was over and I tried to paint, I was 'stuck', so stuck that I felt that I had lost all the skills and techniques I had learned over my lifetime. They just seemed to disappear as I made 'mud' paintings, the awful mix that watercolorists try to avoid which robs vibrant colors of their beauty.
Not a problem, I thought. I've been stuck before. I would just continue to practice and eventually the 'stuckness' would go away. After a few tries though, I realized that I needed to put away the watercolors for awhile and try something else. I practiced letterforms.
I did 36 small, non-representational acrylic paintings one right after the other:
I stencilled designs on paper, and I molded Sculpey II clay into a shrine about The Heart of Time:
It wasn't until last week when I attended Gloria Miller Allen's watercolor class on Whidbey Island in Washington (www.gloriamillerallen.com) that my watercolor 'genes' came unstuck. As I sat in class doing simple color, value, perspective, and design exercises, I began to unlock the stuck door to all the things that I knew about watercolor. What I have learned about watercolor came flooding back into my hand.
It wasn't an easy process. I still felt the old 'high expectations' part of myself at work, that part which creates fear of success and failure. I spent a lot of time talking to myself, reassuring myself that I would again hit the stuck place, but I knew how to get through that. I knew that in every piece of art there is a place that becomes mud, that to push through the mud is to find more depth in myself. I knew that not every painting can be special, just like the 35 acrylic paintings that I did quickly and without judgment, but I can learn from the process of doing each one.
Here is the painting that I am still working on. One thing I remembered was to slow down and let the painting dry before I put on another layer. That center leaf needs some clarity, doesn't it?
|I started this as a horizontal painting.|
|But I think it looks better this way, don't you?|
Isn't creating art a lot like life?
Take a look at Gloria Miller Allen's website: www.gloriamillerallen.com
She is a warm and encouraging instructor.