27 September, 2009

Watercolor 101.3: Ninjitsu, Zen, Supernatural Skill?

This is a continuation from this previous post: Watercolor 101.2


John Sell Cotman

Is watercolor as difficult a medium that sometimes portrayed. Watercolor can be seen as an unforgiving medium. This is partly because of it's transparent quality and the inability to go lighter once the darks are placed. Does it deserve the reputation it has and what are ways to come to terms with it's difficulties?
Before Completion. Success.
But if the little fox, after nearly completing the crossing,
Gets his tail in the water,
There is nothing that would further.


The Down Pour: Bev Jozwiak


Some think that though commencing on a watercolor piece and things may be going well, there is always the risk of one false move ruining a piece and that it must be a cautious and deliberate affair painting on paper. This is the paradox that goes along with the sometimes clean lively and unfussy results of some artists. Mastery seems like a hidden art with success due to some sort of magic, or innate ability to strategize the game ahead a bit. It can seem more like a chess game than many other mediums. The more successfully the artist captures the "essence" of the subject and the more minimal the brushwork at the same time, the more it is imagined that such facility is due to some unnatural ability or mad dedication to the medium so as not to make mistakes.


John Singer Sargent: The Tramp

Are these ideas out of date with today's materials? Also, what level if mistake is inherent in any process? For one thing, we know from experience that 100% perfection in any thing is not generally achievable, and often 100% success has the consequence of sacrificing some aspect of the vibrancy of a thing because of it's protected nature?

Watercolor with a Safety Helmet?


I wonder what the experience of others is with the medium? What I have discovered is that failures should be accepted enthusiastically as a part of success and one of the few things that lends facility is brute-force dedication and repetition of practice. By this one can have successes more often and enjoy the greater distinction of their successes as a result. Being thinking people as we are however it is a good thing to understand the methods behind what is happening. As we improve we make sometimes subconscious decisions how to use our tools efficienty. Just like grammar or anything else, I would imagine there are some common rules to govern success, or at least act as guidelines in our effort. Besides, it makes us feel better to have a conscious grasp of the mechanics in addition to our intuition. What are some rules of success in watercolor?


Mary Ann Osko

1 comment:

Colin said...

love those boats!