From Madness to Method - January 2, 2020

It's still weird to write 2020.

Today is my last day of vacation & I go back to the library tomorrow. I liked the idea of working just one day to prepare for Monday, but still have the weekend. If that makes sense.

It has been on my mind lately that I spend a lot of time preparing for projects - thinking about them, buying supplies, setting up templates & materials, but I sometimes don't get to the project itself. Or I get to it, but I'm burnt out on it. I'm not sure if I've got company in that or not, but I assume others feel that way. Prep-crastination? Haha

I kept that in mind today as I came into the art room to work more thoughtfully on the Watercolor Explorations class I'm taking from Laura Horn. I've watched the first video at least three times already, and I keep mucking around, but not really putting my head into the work.

Part of the problem is that i don't have the exact colors she uses in the demonstrations. Is it OCD that keeps me from feeling like I can do the assignments unless I have them? I noticed I was procrastinating again, so I chose colors as similar as I could from my own selection and JUST DID THE WORK.

I've been painting with watercolors since I was about 16 years old, but I still like to take classes. I feel like I missed something in college (not sure what, exactly) and I enjoy seeing watercolor through the eyes of different instructors. They have to do abstract work, not realism! It's also beneficial for me to see the other colors & palettes that these artists use. Laura Horn used Amazonite, Mayan Blue Genuine, Perylene Maroon, Moonglow and Quin Gold Deep + a few others that I substituted since I didn't have her colors. (confession: I ordered them)

For years I kept using the same few shades of Prussian blue, alizarin crimson, hooker's green, yellow ochre and ultramarine blue. There are about 100 different shades in my collection now, but it's habit to stick to the familiar ones. I tried making a game of choosing different colors by making Popsicle sticks with each color. The game would be to choose ones randomly out of the little jars, but it wasn't very satisfying to do (but it was really fun PREPARING THEM). Here are the Popsicle sticks:

That's a Danielle Donaldson print hanging around on top of the sticks. Convenience is everything...

After I did the color swatches, I made myself mark the lesson complete and watched the second one: brushstrokes. It's funny, but I realized that I had ZERO desire to do this lesson - I thought different brushstrokes would be really gimmicky and I dread that in my work. I have a hard enough time being "authentic" in the first place. 

The lesson was surprising to me after I made myself actually do it. I learned. 


I found myself trying all the different brushes she demonstrated (Danielle Donaldson did a similar lesson and it made me go out an purchase a bunch of brushes) - filberts, angled, spintop & flat. Before this, I'd only ever bought round brushes! And trying the techniques, too. Laura didn't just show "wet into wet, wet into dry, drybrush, & splatter". She made marks using all sides of the brushes & demonstrated the kinds of shapes each brush was good at - the circles intrigued me. I have always been a square-lover. 

This brush is called a filbert grainer. It's a 1/4" that I bought on a whim (it was cheap) and didn't really know how to use. Laura had a fan brush and she showed how to create crosshatched lines with it. This brush is the closest I have to anything that makes parallel lines. This is going to sound boring because I keep saying it - but it was intriguing! I'd never bothered with drybrush layers in watercolor. I see now it was a missed opportunity...

The next lesson (woohoo!) was wet into wet. I thought it would be boring, but it wasn't. Again, those circles were fun. And the colors were more fun. I've never used these colors before. Surprise - I even experimented with mixing the colors. (I used to do that a lot when I only used five colors, but not since I got 100 colors)

The moral of the story is: 1) stop preparing so long and just jump in. You can always have a do-over. and 2) try everything. Even if you think you know it. Because you might be surprised.

My art room has a west-facing window. When I saw the blazing pink sky outside, I got my phone and ran out the front door to snap this. Maybe we'll have underground power lines someday, but even with them, it's beautiful. I'm lucky to be alive.


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