My life has been like a watercolor I thought today on my way to the art class…unpredictable, colorful, full of surprises, and sometimes uncontrollable. But now that I am of vintage years, I love my life and
thought, gee, I am glad that the powers that be put me in the company of such an unusual person …myself! Ever think things like that?
No. I didn’t say this. My friend, Jaime Marie did. Jaime took her first watercolor class from me in 1978, She is painting again. It’s been a while. She is reconnecting, writing from Long Island Sound. She has a place in Florida. She has a place in Oregon. She went with me on three of the Greek trips – a very early one; the first time we went to Amorgos; and one the last season.
Sifnos, 05/2000; Jaime framed by the shadowed passage above her.
She bought a frame shop, not knowing framing, because she was painting in watercolor. She was my framer for years – when we both lived in Oregon.
I tell this personal tale first because this kind of thread is part of the painting life. Secondly, because Jaimie’s celebration of herself in an email I received today fits perfectly with what I wanted to address in this month’s Technique Corner, celebrating YOU in your painting choices.
What do I mean by that?
A lot of us, when we start painting, strugglevaliantly to come up with paintings that look like other paintings we have seen. We feel if we get “that look” then we must be real artists. Sometimes we become so busy trying to make our paintings look like others — our teachers, work we see in art magazines or in galleries — that we fail to ask ourselves how this works expresses US. Each one of us. Each unique individual.
“But,” you say back to me, “I LIKE what I see in the galleries, or what my teach paintings. Why is painting in this way, not expressing who I am too?”
Fair enough. but what is special about you? Do you like to linger of a morning wearing favorite fuzzy slippers, sipping a cup of coffee while you read the paper, ____ or while you (fill in the blank)?
There are at least two paintings there. Uniquely you: what you wear before you get dressed for the day, what the table where you have your coffee or tea or whatever, and linger, has on it.
Little collections you have amassed, a shelf, a collection in the bathroom. Favorite corners of your garden. Or of your livingroom. Or kitchen. Flowers that delight you. Your sewing basket, knitting basket or a pile of colors for a partially completed quilt.
Start by drawing. Just anything that defines you. Then do a tinted watercolor of the drawing. Do another.
How about a painting of something inconsequential? Look around: fruit ripening in a window, birds at the bird feeder, a collection of scarves.
Often when I talk to students I find they don’t know what to paint and end up copying something in a magazine or a photo that isn’t particularly important to them. I am suggesting that you start a routine where you paint the minutia around you.
We learn by doing. If you draw or paint some little corner of your life each day you will become a better artist. I suspect that more that this worth goal, you will also learn things about yourself that surprise (and delight) you.
I would love to hear/see what happens. If you want to work on this project in a class setting there is one almost full scheduled in October in Anacortes, and another weekend one on Orcas October 19-20th.
I call it “A Sense of Place. I believe we define ourselves and our place by these little inconsequential things we gather about us. What are yours? Start drawing them.
You will discover things about yourself that you hadn’t quite realized. And, like Jaime, I hope you say: “Such an unusual person …myself!”
©2013 Caroline Buchanan