Yesterday I painted a very simple watercolor landscape as part of my 100-day creative art adventure. As you know, I’m following along page by page, day by day, with a watercolor book written by Aubrey Phillips. I bought the book back in 2016 when I first began playing around with watercolors. I’d seen a few of Phillips paintings and had fallen in love with them.
Or so I thought. Once I received Watercolour Painting with Aubrey Phillips and saw more of his work, I realized that what I’d felt had been a mere infatuation and that it had quickly faded away. In short, I did not like his watercolors at all.
Well, I did like his skies, especially the colors in his skies. This was what I’d seen in those first paintings. This was what had caught my attention and led me to believe I was falling in love.
Now, having worked my way through the first few chapters of his book on watercolor, I’ve come to accept that Aubrey Phillips and I have irreconcilable differences. While I was never married to his particular style, had I been, it would be time to set divorce proceedings in motion. His style is not my style. While there are a few of his paintings I like, for the most part I don’t like his watercolors, and I don’t want to paint like him.
For what it’s worth — not much, seriously — here are two recent landscapes from my project.
This untitled painting was based on Summer Landscape by Phillips. His painting is beautiful in its own way; mine is not. Mine is simply a sorry attempt to create a watercolor in someone else’s style.
And yesterday’s project based on his View of Lake Bala:
Again, his painting is lovely. Mine is simply a mess of indistinct shapes and colors and some little blob of green pretending to be a tree. Even my skies are messy, and that’s mostly because at this point in the project, I’ve come to realize two important truths:
- I don’t like Aubrey Phillips style of watercolor painting.
- I don’t yet have a style of my own.
You might well be wondering why I’m doing this project based on an artist whose watercolor style I dislike. I talked about this before, mentioning how I tend to make random choices in art, and that’s how I chose this book for my project.
Upon choosing it, I knew from the start that I did not want to copy his style. This was, in fact, one of the reasons why I decided to work with the book. I knew that because I don’t like his watercolor style, I would come to the point where I would have to begin developing my own style. I knew I would become uncomfortable trying to imitate his art and that I would be forced to examine that all-important question: what is my style?
I don’t have a watercolor style. I don’t even know what I want to do with watercolor or why I want to do it. It’s been a fun learning process, and I have learned a lot. But I still haven’t found a style of my own.
Why dating analogies are coming to mind, I don’t know, but having now divorced myself from any pretentions of loving Aubrey Phillips and his style, I’m ready to start meeting new styles, maybe going out and about with a few, maybe imaginatively having dinner with a style that catches my eyes. Yes, I’m ready to start dating again.
So, like a modern-day woman signing up on an online dating site, I’m going to be browsing the internet, too, looking for possible matches to my artistic tastes and sensibilities. I want to find a watercolor style that lets me walk along quiet pathways through misty woodlands, a style that speaks softly and gently, a style that loves skies of all colors, trees in all seasons, and lots of cool shadows.
Sometimes I can imagine what my style would look like — if only I knew how to create it!
That’s what I’ll be working on now as I complete this 100-day adventure. I won’t be attempting to copy or even emulate or imitate any of the paintings by Aubrey Phillips. Instead, I’ll be taking his subject ideas and interpreting them in my own way, seeing his scenes with my eyes, not his. I’ll be using my techniques — such as they are — to create my skies, using my colors to paint not what Aubrey Phillips put on his paper, but what I feel in my heart.
This is why I chose to work with his book. I knew we would inevitably come to a parting of the ways. This, my friends, will be the most exciting, most difficult, but most rewarding part of this creative adventure. Wish me well.