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.
As a species we are minuscule in the great scheme of things, but our effect on the planet since our existence, has been catastrophic.
We tell ourselves, not to worry - all will be okay and that the planet survived long before we arrived on the scene.
Although, Mother Nature has never created - in the history of evolution, such a complex, selfish, self concerning species. She has outdone herself in her abilities of organic design; we have been her best and worst creation to date.
The more evolved we become, the greater heights we strive to achieve - the less we see what is happening around us; the more out of touch with the balance of nature we become.
We tell ourselves, there should be work-life balance - what about Mother Nature balance? Where there is imbalance, there is will be a trade off. Something else, someone else, some other species or organism must suffer as a result of the imbalance.
Due care for nature; to work with and beside her must be our first and last consideration before we create, invent, borrow, pillage or destroy.
We tell our kids, ‘you are not the only one on the planet’, but as adults we consider only ourselves. We behave like spoilt brats expecting the earth; expecting to receive all, to have all in the name of progress and success.
Time is now. What we walk past, we accept.
We are failing Mother Nature as her greatest creation; we need to make her proud.
In order to help our kids, to help ourselves, to help us get ahead in our own lives. We must first consider doing something for Mother Nature - we must give back - be that plant a tree, clean up the earth’s surface - biosphere/atmosphere that we have polluted. We must learn to think of healthy disposals before we create anything, buy anything, use anything.
We were given paradise - all given to us without recoil, but we are creating and living in a rubbish dump. Where everything is disposable.
Charity starts at home - with nature.
Challenge and success - it is hard not to say ‘why does it happen to me ‘ or ‘why is such adversity on my doorstep - I don’t understand’. Yes, it can be difficult, but true balance and equilibrium exists only in equal measure of opposites. Hence, one can not truly live a full life without loss or tragedy, in the same way one can not experience fullness with joy and success.
Balance truly lives at the nuclei of a life having experienced both. Anything less, can not be called life only an existence - where by the state of being is not affected or is not given energy to, because there is no push or pull from each direction. It is the pushing and pulling of atoms equally that maintains the structure and place of cells in life.
Existence is when life pulls only in one or no direction - dragging the cell along for the ride, not able to change, evolve or grow. Equal forces from opposite directions pressurises the cell to move forward - at that point life is initiated.
So never complain, why me - the ups and downs it is what gives you life, what gives you energy. The greater that rocking and rolling of life; the greater energy, progress and nourishment received to maintain life’s balance.
It all starts with time to create. For many of us, this is a never ending battle with what society wants us to do in order to partake in the world of modernity and what your heart wants and needs to do, in order to find comfort and peace of mind to take you through the wonderful journey of life.
We can all be slaves to the pay check or be slaves to pumping out hundreds of resumes a day to acquire the pay check - because that’s what you must do in order to pay the myriad of bills that enable us to live in a first world country they call technologically advanced, modern and proper.
Yet, with modernity comes stress, unrealistic expectations and a way of life that can be unhealthy to one’s natural creative processes and whether or not we say, “but I don’t have time” - we need to make time and make it a priority in order to keep one’s sanity.
Without attending to your natural, innate gifts, it is like cutting off a limb - it is what makes you the unique species you are. A rabbit without its ears , would it not be a guinea pig; a possum without its tail might it be a Koala. A butterfly without the ability to fly, would it even be a butterfly? The answer is no.
Your gifts and talents are unique to your soul and being. One can no more switch them off than nature can stop creating life. This is the process of natural evolution - society, modernity, mankind should not demand that you even try to forgo nature’s gift.
So the next time you tell yourself, “I don’t have time”, ask yourself, “If I don’t engage in my gifts, will it be at the detriment of my uniqueness and what makes me - me? Will I still be the me, nature intended me to be?”
There is nothing like life to test our resilience. It prods at us with its hot iron - pushing us forward past the pain, past the difficulties, past the disbelief. It gives us reassurance when needed, direction when required and life skills to carry with us on our journey of survival.
It takes great courage, a huge sense of self worth and understanding to move forward - as each step is one of blind belief, in life’s plan. Staying the course carved out for you, can be trying - to say the least and without laying down your plan of stepping stones, it is easy to detour off course.
...But if you find time to ponder, time to reflect, time to rest, gather your strength and give thanks for all you have - life can be a blast! Humbly, you take everything at face value - learn from it and move on - to even greater things.
Everything we do in life, everything we learn throughout our schooling and into our tertiary education - even in the workplace - information has at some point been written, recorded and accessed through books. Whether they are physical or digital books; texts, manuals or procedures - the data has been saved for now and forever, for future generations to enjoy and access.
We are very much reliant on the process of recording the written word and without such, generations of people would not progress - could not push past the last generational successes, because they would always be reinventing the wheel.
We as a society - need researchers, educators, writers to keep knowledge and information current; and we need to pass down this art form to new generations so we continue to progress and push the boundaries. Instill a love of learning and literature; create a fervent passion to discover and absorb knowledge in your family.
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Knowledge is the best gift you can give.