Posts Tagged ‘Zen’

The popular misconception about watercolor is that it’s easy. How hard can this be?  You only use water, no complicated smelly toxic solvents.  All you need is some paper, some paint that comes neatly in small tubes, some brushes and the old pickle jar to wash your brushes in.  Phhfffffrrrhhh.

Think again.  Watercolor wins hands down as the hardest painting medium.  Totally unforgiving.  If you’re planning on trying watercolor, add a large wastepaper basket to your supply list and learn to work right next to it.  Painting in watercolor demands a sense of adventure, a sense of risk taking. In this medium you really do have to go with the flow. And flow it does, very often, probably most often, not in the direction you hoped it would.  Wastepaper basket time.  Allow yourself years of practice before you get the hang of it.  Not a typo there, years.  Why would you put yourself through this?  Because it’s exhilarating.  It wakes up your complacent I’ll-just-go-over-that-later-and-fix-it mind.  Uh-uh.  Not later, girlfriend.  Every stroke-splash-wash you make behaves like a living organism that demands your total attention or else it’ll die on you right then and there.  If you overwork it, the thing will get gummy. To count as a watercolor, your painting has to be transparent and luminous.  So, sure, go out and buy the simple supplies. Then set yourself down and turn your mind to the “transparent and luminous” setting.  When you need inspiration—and you will, often– I suggest you look at the work of my friend Christine Hanlon, who dashed off this little gem while sitting on some rocks just north of San Francisco.  She likes to walk over to the ocean in the morning to do a watercolor…”to get the creative juices flowing.”  Yes, indeed.  Thank you, Christine.  http://christinehanlon.homestead.com/index.html

Zen teachers like to talk about how when you do something, whatever it is, you should burn yourself up completely, leaving no residue.  It’s like that with watercolor.  You burn yourself up, except, errhh, with water.

If what I’m saying here isn’t perfectly clear, I hope at least it’s transparent.

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