Standing At the Edge

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.



  1. great job judith – I do feel depth and distance and I really love the sky! It feels just right – like it is stretching out into the distance. very nice!

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  2. I went through the exact same thing, and I can sense your longing to get where you want to be. And you really will! Trust your ability to learn and enjoy the process. You’re doing all the right things. I found that for weeks I’d struggle on, only to make a huge leap forward all of a sudden! And so it continues. Apologies if I’ve written this here before but it’s such a great quote, Anslem Keifer said “Art is longing. You never really get there, but you carry on in the hope you will” …whatever stage you’re at in the journey, there will always be more of the road to travel.
    And I love your painting by the way.

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  3. I can see the depth and distance coming. I have to have faith that one day it will all click for me…I have the same faith for you. It will come.

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  4. what a Beautiful post Judith! what a perfect attitude of determined persistent resolved commitment. That, is what it takes to improve. Your words went straight to my heart. As I remembered. What it was like.
    In your painting…. I see a lovely sense of spaciousness in the sky. there is room to stretch out! love that.
    then there are the mountains aglow in the back…. The destination. The foreground green shrubs and textured, lets us know where you are right now.
    what a Great Painting!!!!!!!

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  5. I am in the same position as you Judith. Sometimes I feel I am moving forward, sometimes backwards. If only there is a magic wand that we could all use and be the kind of artist we long to be in one flick, we would all be getting that wand and really fight for it. I know you are enjoying your journey as I do mine. Your painting suggests hope. There is space to grow and mature.

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      1. Yes, practice makes progress. 🙂 🙂 🙂 An friend once told me that maybe a seasoned artist can draw and color something in less than an hour and an amateur can do it in five to eight hours. But no matter how long the amateur one takes, he/she will eventually do it in less than an hour just like the seasoned ones through persistence, constant practice and appreciation of ones struggles. One day we will find the right wand and flick it like magic just like the seasoned ones. 🙂

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  6. You traveled through the painting and through the post. I see lots of good stuff in this painting, Judith. Oh how I can feel your desire to be better and to do more. Oh, how I have felt the same things, and still do. Vicki’s quote is really fabulous. Art teaches us so much. You have wonderful, glowing, hopeful colors in this piece and I see you reaching the goals you’ve set. As Vicki said, you’re doing everything right. The biggest task is showing up every time. You’ve got the fire, I don’t see art letting go of you ever. I really like this painting because it glows with hope and promise and I see the future stretching out way way in front of you. You keep showing up and you’ll get there. I have great faith in you!

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      1. Thanks! And you’re right about Rome. I remind myself of that from time to time. I’ve only been doing this for a year, so I shouldn’t expect to be as skillful as someone who’s been drawing or painting for most of their life.

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  7. I love your post and you gave us a piece of your heart and desire, I love that. Your painting has feeling and I see that view of which you speak…..I want art to extend out to me far more than tickling the eye or brain. I want to have my heart and soul to be engaged and your painting does that. I love your attitude and determination. You will get better and better, it is not common for an artist to have a talent that they brush out a master piece without the learning stages. The stages is part of the journey, it is difficult and painful at times but it is part of growing into being an artist. I say embrace it! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, definitely. The journey has its frustrating moments — and setbacks — but it makes us better artists when we have to work for what we achieve. At least, that’s what I tell myself. If it came too easily, I doubt that it would mean as much to me as it does now. Seeing myself getting better is satisfying, even when it seems like a long, slow process.

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  8. That’s IT! If someone told me this was a recently discovered watercolor by J.M.W Turner, I would have completely believed it. I think you are starting to find your voice, I would not be surprised if this painting came quite easily – just remove the obstacles to creating, and it will come pouring out naturally. I wish I could listen to my own advice!

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