I spent a weekend recently framing up a few of my favourite paintings that I have created over the past few years - yes, partially because I can’t bear to part with them and also because they have been hugely important in my road to progress and self discovery.
Milestones rarely surface to treasure - they are often fleeting moments in history that are for all purposes intangible thereafter. When one is lucky enough to savor ones progress, take the opportunity.
It will help one to remember the struggles; how far and from where one has come; it can be a marker to regather ones energies, to relay the stepping stones to something even greater.
Everyone sets aside a collection of tools they prefer to use for watercolour. I am no different, although I do believe making time to experiment with new mediums and tools that you haven't yet given the time of day, is really necessary. In the creation of art works, one is often inclined to stick with things that work, but without taking a look at what is really out there, your true talent can't be recognised, because you are scared to push the boundaries. It is sort of like scaling a hill. Of course you can go around it, but if you run up it, you become so much stronger and your technique improves.
When I first got back into watercolour, I was inclined to tentatively use my old palette and fine brush, as I did as a kid. I would plod away, working in far too much detail and the quality of painting suffered, as it would always look over worked. So, I literally had to put my old faithful brush and paint palette in a box, so I could learn to use new watercolour mediums such as gouache and watercolour pencils. Yes, I do realise these mediums have been around for quite some years, however if you are a creature of habit because you're scared to make a mistake with your watercolour, you will often stick to what you know.
So, on my last trip to Seoul, I took nothing but my wallet and visited Kyobo underground Bookstore, which has more than just books. It is full of great art supplies and is a creators' paradise for both the creation of art and author works - that is, if you really love snooping through pen, ink and writing sets, too. I have to say, I was very much spoilt for choice as the local ink, watercolour paper as well as the watercolour pencils are of exceptional quality. Shinhan art products and tools have been around for years and I am very much partial to using them. They flow easily across 300 gsm paper and produce that wonderful natural, trademark wash.
So although my task was to use only Derwent pencils to lay down my sketches, I did cheat a bit, using the Pro Artist watercolour paint to complete my tests. Either way, the Derwent pencils are smooth to use, but tend to leave a gritty finish on the paper if you are not careful. They definitely need a good deal of experimenting to master but are great, if you like to be in control of where you place your lines. So, if you love your colour pencils and enjoy the overlay process, watercolour pencils will allow you that freedom.
When it comes to pen an ink, my initial tools are a good Unipin fine liner or micron Pigma, to whizz about the page. However, I do use dip pens into Winsor and Newton Ink for continuity of natural tones across the page. Black is quite harsh and doesn't always deliver a natural feel. However, I do like to use the black micron to quickly sketch my overall scene as it makes me focus in on the subject and I tend not to worry about making mistakes. I don't get stuck on the details and my hand naturally places the marks across the paper.
I have to say, everyone loves to know they are on the right track; that what they are doing, is the way of the universe and it will eventually work out for the best. One plans the days and nights; struggles through the challenges - at times not really confident that one will be able to resolve the myriad of complex problems that hijack one's mind. Doubt can be a never-ending thought process, if you don't have your neurons sorted out - in much the same priority as you organise your plan for success.
My mind is forever going at one hundred to one - it never seems to sleep. At times, I severely doubt myself - not because I don't feel I have enough of the right stuff to make it a success; I doubt myself because it is so far removed from the box of normality, in the way other people think. I worry about what they will think of me - when I'm doing what I'm doing; worry that I'm not enough, in the big scheme of things. For those who have known me - my whole lifetime, you have come to terms with my abstractness - have learnt to expect, the unexpected. For those more new to the game of friendship, then I'm just a bit of a curved ball.
So how does one progress, if one is forever doubting one's abilities to succeed because of what other people think? Hmmmm - with difficulty. And, I know I am not alone here. I am pretty sure there are other abstract individuals on the planet, who think as I do. I don't reckon I am a rare Tasmanian Devil on the planet.
For me, learning to switch off to the myriad of often harsh comments that artistic individuals receive - is a skill that I'm still learning - given that I'm highly sensitive creature like many artists.
This school holidays, I have revisited the basics of art. It has been considerable time since I have touched on the subject of trees and am so far finding the visit both fun and educational. Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in one day and finding sufficient time to revisit all subject matters, takes considerable concentrated effort, after not having touched a pencil in weeks. Some days I feel as though I'm back at square one and I really have to focus on my weaknesses - seeing and drawing things as they are and not letting my mind wander where it wants to.
Given the weather has been wonderful of late, I have strolled through Queens Park and picked a lovely, leafless tree to commence my drawing practice. I am always keen to get drawing the details, so I really have to restrict myself and make sure I put down only the essential information first.
Okay, so I got a bit carried away with the first tree. However, I might just make this one, the centre of attraction and leave the remaining trees to sit very much in the background of my nature piece. Generally, I like to work one area first to get my brain into the zone. It also allows me time to think about how I might want to treat the picture and what elements would complement my subject.
However, in this learning curve, I am trying to teach my hand to achieve an overall impression of what the final drawing might look like, so that I can achieve more in one sitting. When I am out on location drawing, time seems to pass so quickly and before I realise it, half my day has gone and I have not laid down my entire drawing. I lose essential lighting and often lose the mood of the picture, given the clouds or other weather conditions that help build the character of my drawings. So today about get the overall scape down in a shorter amount of time.
I can't say that I am finished or entirely happy with the treatment of trees. However, returning to the basics of creation always helps me define what I am trying to achieve with my drawing. A couple more weeks of this and I will be ready to plot my next major piece.
Enjoy the drawing board!