Anyone who was around in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s is very familiar with Alfred E. Neuman of Mad Magazine fame, an iconic character who graced almost every cover of the satirical publication from 1956 on.
In case you’re wondering, Mad Magazine is still published each month. It started in 1952 with Issue 1, and it’s now “re-starting” as of last month. In other words, June 2018 is another Issue 1. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know.
As a child, I loved Mad Magazine, although my mother considered it trash and threw a fit if I bought an issue. I don’t think she ever read anything in Mad Magazine, for if she had, she would have found it filled with intelligent satirical commentary on modern life.
This post, of course, is not really about Mad Magazine, nor is it about Alfred E. Neuman. It’s about that simple slogan that’s attached to Neuman and Mad.
“What? Me worry?”
That’s probably not a bad philosophy to have as we go through life, and it’s especially valuable as a part of the art experience, I’ve learned. I was delighted when I discovered that attitude recently in a series of watercolor videos from Russell Black.
As you’re surely aware, July is World Watercolor Month — founded by Charlie O’Shields of Doodlewash. Recently a friend asked if I had any helpful tips for watercolor painting. I did a bit of browsing and came across a wonderful series of videos from Russell Black. I not only sent the links to my friend, but I also started watching the videos, too, and I really have learned a lot.
I followed along with one of Black’s demonstrations — a watercolor wash and silhouette painting — and here’s my first contribution to World Watercolor Month:
If you can’t tell, it’s a southwestern scene. It’s supposed to be a house with rocks and bushes, mountains in the background, and that’s a barn and silo on the left. There’s a jagged walkway, and a little white fence in the foreground.
My painting doesn’t compare to Black’s, of course, but that’s not the point. The point in doing this — as he so wisely points out — is to learn about watercolor techniques and to have fun in the process.
“Don’t worry about staying inside the lines,” he says. “Don’t worry about whether your drawing is perfect.” It’s not about perfection. It’s about having fun, and I did have fun with this simple wash and silhouette painting.
I like the casualness in this watercolor — in the drawing, in the monochromatic color scheme, in the approach to putting the paint on the paper. I enjoyed it, and I learned from it.
Watercolor painting is still a bit intimidating, but Russell Black has helped me gain a better foundation than I had in the past. I have a better understanding now about what to do — and what not to do — and while I won’t be completing thirty-one watercolor paintings this month, I will probably play around with my paints a little more.
I’m not going to worry about watercolor now. I’m just going to have fun because that’s what it’s really all about. Right, Charlie?