I’ve been playing around with watercolors over the last few weeks — a little of this, some of that, and a lot of splotches. I’m still learning to use these mischievous paints, and it’s always fun to drip and drop and brush and splatter colors across the page.
I’ve tried a lot of different subjects and styles. I’ve done portraits and paintings which required very careful and controlled strokes, like the “Feet on the Beach” painting I made for our daughter in California. At the other extreme, I’ve let the colors loose on the page while exorcising my “Demon Green” and learned to “make my mark” in abstracts. I’ve reached down into my heart for inspiration with my little “Playmates“, and found a momentary resting place with quiet landscapes.
All along, I’ve been doing a lot of practice pieces, too, taking simple scenes and painting them over and over, trying different techniques, using different colors, and looking for ways to create different effects.
Each painting has, in its own way, been successful because I’ve learned something from every one, even my disastrous “Windmill on the Hill“. At the same time, each painting has fallen short of my hopes. I know I’m making progress — not only in watercolors but in all areas of artistic expression — yet I want so much to create a painting that truly says “Yes, I am an artist.” It’s hard to explain, really, but I guess what I’m struggling to say is that I want to be better than I am.
Of course, it takes time. I wont let myself feel too discouraged or disappointed. Art is a lifelong love, and becoming the artist I want to be is a lifelong journey. I’m in no hurry to reach the end. Still, I so often wish I were a bit farther along the road — with my art, that is. I think, if only I’d started sooner, if only I had more natural talent, if only I could see and think and feel the way a real artist does. Yes, I want to be better than I am. So much better.
I spend time looking at my paintings, looking at what’s wrong, and asking what I want to do differently. What is it about my paintings that I don’t like?
It’s simple. My paintings are precisely that. Simple. I haven’t learned to create lights and shadows. I’m not able to add realistic details. I remind myself that art is an illusion, that paintings are sometimes more about expressing moods and emotions, thoughts and feelings, but still I want more depth to my paintings. Oh, how I wish I were better than I am. I know I’m getting better, but if only I could be there now!
As I stand at my easel with a paintbrush in hand and look at the paints and palettes scattered around me, I sometimes feel I’m so close to something, almost close enough to touch it. It’s like standing at the edge of time, seeing possibilities ahead in the distance.
That’s the feeling I wanted to express as I painted this watercolor. I wanted to create more lights and shadows, give the painting a better sense of depth, and show the “artistic landscape” ahead of me from my vantage point.
I’m not sure it does that in anyone’s eyes but my own.
I’m going to reach those distant mountains someday, and I’m going to climb them. I’m going to keep hiking along this trail, along the rocky ridges, and through the sun-dappled valleys stretching out before me. As I said before, I’m in no hurry, so for now, I’m going to stand here at the edge, looking out over the landscape, and I’m going to enjoy the view.