Setting Off on a New Path

I recently broke up with Aubrey Phillips, if you recall. Oh, he’s still around, and I’m still working my way through one of his books on watercolor. I found out recently that he wrote another — Atmospheric Landscapes in Watercolor — but I’m not interested. It’s possible to find a used copy of the book, but it didn’t get very good reviews, and I’ve no interest in renewing my relationship with Phillips and his watercolor style.

I am interested, though, in exploring my own watercolor style, even as I continue working my way through my 100-day creative project with Phillips as my guide. I’ve given thought to what I like and dislike in watercolor — not only in Phillips paintings but in those of other artists.

Artistic styles vary greatly from one artist to another. Even though a particular painting may be beautiful, it can be painted in a style that I don’t want to follow. Our tastes — both as viewers and as artists — vary, too. I see many lovely watercolors. I admire them. I marvel at the skill with which they were painted. I respect their artists’ talents. But even though I like a watercolor, it doesn’t necessarily mean I’d like to paint the same way.

Because I do like so many different watercolor styles, it’s been difficult for me to be certain about my own pathway. I made steps in the right direction last May, but even then there was a lot of uncertainty. Was this really where I wanted to go?

Over the last weeks, I’ve been trotting around England and Wales with Aubrey Phillips, loving the countryside, but hating most of the paintings I’ve done. I’ve followed the demonstrations in the book, I’ve done my best to mimic what I’ve seen in his paintings, and it hasn’t worked.

So, no more of that I decided.

My most recent “assignment” from my creative adventure with Phillips was to paint the Mawddach Estuary. Now, I’m sure the Mawddach Estuary is a lovely place filled with scenic beauty, but this painting by Aubrey Phillips left me unmoved and uninspired.

Mawddah Estuary (2)

It’s a nice painting, yes. I do like the colors he’s used for the skies. That, however, was about the only thing I liked.

This was the point at which my path and his diverged. It was time for me to go my own way, time for me to set out on my own path.

I kept the colors from the sky, but in the end, I created a completely different view of a completely different scene based on the “Mawddach Estuary” location. Here is a reference photo I found:

Afon Mawddach
“Afon Mawddach”

I like trees and forests much better than mountains and hills, so that’s what I painted. Here is my finished watercolor:

Mawddah (2)

It’s nothing like the reference photo. It’s nothing at all like the original painting by Aubrey Phillips, but it’s definitely representative of my developing style of watercolor. This is my painting; this is my path.

As I continue working my way through Watercolour Painting with Aubrey Phillips, I’ll definitely be following my pathway, not his. I may work from the same inspiration. I may borrow colors from his palette. But I’ll paint in my own way.

For now my style is still hesitant, vague, and uncertain. I’m sure it will change as I continue down this pathway. I’ll find new things to add. I might toss out a few things I don’t really need — or, at least, properly dispose of them in an appropriate receptacle. No littering on my path, please. In time, as my techniques improve, certain elements will become better defined, other elements will be improved, I’m sure.

I’m excited to walk along this pathway, seeing sunrises and sunsets, gazing off into the distance, coming upon quiet streams and hidden groves. I like my path.


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