Watercolor Wisdom

21 Jul 2011

Previously I wrote about taking a watercolor class years ago at the BBG and I have been keen to continue learning how to paint with watercolor. I found this place called Musa Abode Art Gallery in Singapore which, in addition to being a gallery, also offers art classes so I signed up immediately for the watercolor one.

I enrolled myself to eight sessions in total, so I hope that by the end of the course I will gain confidence and be able to produce a couple of decent paintings that we can all enjoy together. ;) Each class is two-hour long and conducted in a casual and laid-back style. I had my first class over the weekend and it was different than the floral watercolor class I’d taken previously. For starter, I got to learn the bare basics – ie. primary colors, tones and simple shapes. The two-hour class went by very quickly, but what a relaxing way it was to spend the weekend! Having an instructor nearby to give guidance and demonstrate is truly not quite the same as buying books and trying to figure it out on my own at home. Definitely much better. The interaction between fellow students is nice too and it’s interesting to see different strokes, so to speak. ;p (Me and my punny-ness, heh!)

You know what is the greatest thing about creating art? It’s a true expression of who you are as an individual. You can copy other people’s styles or attempt to mimic someone else’s work, but at the end of the day it’s all about the relationship between you and yourself. When you create your art, it’s like seeing yourself in a mirror. Let’s take watercolor for instance. It’s a fluid medium, as we know. Water, pigment and paper. How you lay on the pigment on paper and how you build up levels of tonal intensity can reveal a lot of your personality traits.

It can be said that I am a perfectionist and cautious. As in everything else I do, I generally avoid the occurrence of mistakes by carefully planning in advance what I set out to do. I dislike editing or redoing things over unnecessarily, so I always try to be as accurate as possible from the start. I watched the teacher’s demonstration of painting a sphere, observed him with tack-sharp focus and then proceeded to paint my own sphere. If possible, just have one go at it and produce the perfect result. Which, of course, did not turn out to be the case. The paint was still wet and I was too eager to put on another swash of color. So my paint started to bleed into one another, unable to create the distinct tonal gradation which I wanted to achieve. Damnitz.

Lesson learned here? PATIENCE AND PRACTICE. It’s okay to make mistakes and start over. Paint another sphere, or two, or many many more until I get it right.

In another instance, I was teasing one of my classmates about whether she’s one who colors (or paints) outside the lines. Because I happen to be the opposite. I create neat lines and stay within the lines. I can’t ‘free-style’ very well. If my brush stroke starts out from left to right, it will always be left to right. If it’s top to down, then it will always be top to down. Systematic. Orderly. Neat. I find it very difficult psychologically to do a Pollack, because in my world, everything must be in order. I know there’s beauty in randomness and chaos, but I… just… can’t… The mere thought of chaos and disorder freaks me out. *OCD ALERTTTTTTTTTT* So when the teacher demonstrated painting a cone and how to achieve realistic-looking gradations to build visual volume, my oh my ….. this was a challenge for me. There was no systematic up, down, left right. Swashes had to be curvy and diagonal in some areas. I had to break free from my usual linear grid-like approach or I won’t get a realistic-looking cone.

Lesson learned here? I NEED TO LOOSEN THE FUCK UP!!!

So yeah, we’re talking about painting but a lot of it can be applied to the context of my life.

That’s my problem. And I am aware that it’s always been a problem. Having too high an expectation. Always insisting that everything must be perfect. I don’t believe I’m born to be mediocre, so I set a super duper high bar for myself. It is not good enough for me that I’ve accomplished a lot of those goals. Higher goals! Perfection! And then I get sorely disappointed when things don’t turn out pretty and perfect for me. After which, I get jaded with life, feel sorry for myself and start hating everything/everybody. :p j/k… kinda.

I guess that’s why I’m turning to art as self-therapy. Watercolor is probably one of the better mediums for me, because of its fluid, soft-and-easy nature (gasp, totally opposite to my character!). The alluring beauty of watercolor, I think we all can agree, is essentially the soft tonal gradations and the undefined random shapes that result from a natural occurrence of diluted pigments on paper. Right? That beauty can only be achieved via the ability to break out of rigid lines and exercising patience. Both of which are qualities which I need to learn how to embrace in my life right now.

Yeah, that’s the James Bond teacher. :p All female students. Hur hur hur!

Disclaimer: By the way, I’m not really that rigid of a person as described here in this blog. Please know that I am a fun-loving, candid, humorous and capable of being spontaneous. Hahahahaha. I have been blessed to be loved by many. What I’ve written here is an observation of the relationship I have with myself. OK??!!!!! :P

Question for readers: Do you color inside or outside the lines?

The Moonberry Blog http://blog.moonberry.com

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