In the art world, we are presented with so many options. Figures, still-lives, landscape, streetscape, seascape, abstract, hyper-realism, the list is endless. There IS one thing however, that is NOT negotiable for art to be a success and that is; PASSION!
If you’re going along, copying photos, seeking perfection and therefore painting with a great deal of timidity and hesitation, there is a good chance you’re painting will be dull, lifeless and boring. None of us want that. We don’t set out to paint bad pictures of course, but the truth is, we can be our own worst enemies. A few of these little tips can hopefully guide you to more thoughtful, expressive and ultimately, better painting.
· There are no rules, just bad technique. – Forget what you think you already know. Attack your next painting like you’re a toddler, wearing a plastic smock and just GO FOR IT! RIP IN! While it may not be the child-like results we are after, what we DO want is the joy and the sheer expression their brushes create. They LOVE it! If you’re painting a building, ATTACK it! Don’t fiddle-fart around and colour in. Like the peerless Madonna Ciccone told us all back in the late 1980’s, you know you know you got to EXPRESS yourself! Paint like no one is watching.
· Perfection is the enemy of creativity – Not much to say here except for the fact that the longer you fuss over a watercolour, the worse it gets. As watercolourists, we want fresh washes, clean brushwork and strong light. THAT is the essence of the medium. Do not force the issue. Allow it to do what it wants and hold on tight – RUN WITH IT, not against it. Make the mark and get out!
· Mistakes are crucial – They are what learning is all about. There is something I have learned from teaching a lot and that is that not everyone is naturally open to making mistakes. Everyone makes them, but the successful students actually take notice and move on and consciously learn from them. It is easy to shrug your shoulders and go ‘oh well, that’s ok’….. and NOT change a thing. It IS however difficult to go ‘oh well, that’s ok, I’ll change it next time and use this little nugget of knowledge to push my work forward”. THIS is what we’re after.
· Forget your obsession with materials. Yes, I am an advocate for good paper, I know, BUT don’t let it stop you painting on rubbish paper if it is all that you have there. Painting SOMEthing is better than nothing. Think of every time you pick up a brush as valuable experience. Obsessing over materials is a great excuse to procrastinate and just not bother.
YOUR INTUITION is unique and ignore it at your peril. Your painting will talk to you and it is in your best interest to bloody-well listen to it! We are not replicating a scene, we are creating a new scene hopefully full of light, character and brush-marks that only we as individuals can produce. Don’t be a copycat. YOUR artistic vision must come to the fore.
Allow it to take control!