Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Watercolor Book

This is the book on watercolors that I mentioned the other day.  It’s called “Basic Watercolor Answer Book”, by Catherine Anderson.

It’s a really nice book on watercolors, and her work, in particular, is just beautiful.

But I got it off the shelf today, and re-read it, and she said it so much better than I remembered:

“God knows how much time I took to respond, but the question that came to me was, ‘What is art all about anyway?’  I realized, at that moment, that there really are no rules.  Critiquing Mary’s work would have stopped the creative process of expressing what she wanted to express.  Who am I to tell anyone what or how she should express anything?  It was her painting, and I handed it back to her.  ‘Mary, put the whale in!’”

How wise of her to give her permission to do whatever.  If she had criticized her or spoken harshly, Mary may never have painted again.

And more than likely, Mary painted her whale and went on to paint lions or seascapes or who knows what.  As artists, we don’t stay the same, and neither does our art.  We grow and change over the years and become interested in other things, but the important thing is to not stop. 

Paint the whale now and in 5 years you’ll probably be painting in a completely different place.  No harm, no foul.  But at least you’ll still be painting and creating art with your own voice, even if you’ve decided to specialize in whale paintings.  J

That reminds me of the funny quote:
“You’re unique, just like everyone else.”

And so is an artist’s art. Or it should be.  If your art should be anything, it should at least be yours.

The challenge, of course, is to find your own voice, and to do that, you may have to go through a whale stage.  One thing leads to another and another and another.  You can’t foresee what’s out there.  For all we know, Mary may have become a fabulous wildlife painter.  J

I do know you definitely have to go through A-Y to get to Z.  It takes a certain amount of courage and determination to do that, but that’s what the life of an artist is all about.

Boy, that’s easier said than done!  J

To authentic expression…

Lucky Dog 


  1. Loved this post.

    I was a preschool teacher for years and believe strongly that, with children, nearly every time it is the PROCESS that's important--the final piece is the product, or in the case of preschool art, the by-product. The value is in the doing--the expressive, creative, satisfying DOING. Therefore, I never praised OR critiqued preschool art (or make suggestions on how to improve it like so many other preschool teachers--grrr.) I talked to the kids about what they were thinking and feeling and asked them to tell me about their choices. Authentic expression. I think we, as adults, tend to praise or critique those authentic expressions right out of kids at an early age if we're not careful.

    (can you tell this is a pet peeve of mine? LOL!!)

  2. Like we need help having Censors, right? Thanks, Kim!