I have signed up for a watercolor workshop. I have complained, whined, fussed, fumed, worried, scuttled, hunched, kvetched, squampfeld, and then whined again. Some of you have heard this and may even recognize the pattern. Jump first, squeal afterward.
Before my water-coloring artist friends get all het up, let me explain — it’s not about watercolor. It’s all about me.
I’m an oil painter — i.e. an editor, a second-thoughter, a let’s try-that-again-er. Watercolor is pretty much what you see is what you get, no editing permitted. Second chances are few. Over-painting to correct under-painting doesn’t work. Or at least doesn’t work for me. One paints around things rather than things themselves. One paints very lightly at first rather than allowing old paintings underneath to obscure deficiencies on top. One mixes with water to make tints rather than adding titanium white, and then one curses the slobbering of said water into the areas one was planning on keeping white.
So I have spent money, hoping to allay anxiety or promote some success. I have spent a week in despair, hoping that a bit of practice would remind me what I need to know about watercolor. I have dredged up memories of taking a class (by mistake) from Bob Dozono, who recently retired from PCC Sylvania’s art department with great honors and a featured article in the Oregonian. I remember mostly Bob’s very sad eyes, looking at my pathetic, albeit numerous, attempts to paint — it was my first painting class, it was my first “drawing” class, I took it in lieu of art 102, the intro-to-design-color class. He was gracious. I was terrible.
Then I discovered oils and quit watercolor forever. Well, not quite forever. I just found two enormous watercolor paintings in the basement, one that is 60 by 72 inches, done after I discovered oils, but before I completely succumbed. I guess I figured the bigger it came, the less noticeable the particulars. I haven’t unwound the two paintings to examine their particulars yet. I do remember doing mostly watercolor out in the John Day Fossil Beds, but my excuse was they were merely studies for textile works I would produce later. As I did.
But as I produced those textile pieces, I realized I loved painting, even if it was watercolor, and painting, in correctable oils, has now consumed my artworking days. But only oils, not these watercolor messings.
So why am I once again immersed in water media rather than with the delightfully editable oil paintings?
Well, the workshop, sponsored by the Watercolor Society of Oregon, is only for watercolorists, no oil painters allowed. But it is also a bit north and west of Fossil, Oregon, in the irresistible east side of the Cascades, just over the canyon (according to the Google map I looked at) from the John Day River. The space is totally irresistible. In addition, the land and amenities and personnel are also irresistible. So I am gathering my resolve and my watercolor materials, updated from 2007, and marching forward, hoping the land will overcome my ineptitude, the instruction will miraculously change my habits, and the sun will shine.
That last might be the key. If the sun shines, all else will go wondrously. And even if it doesn’t, there will be the glorious land to immerse oneself in. A good friend said I might even learn something. So be it.
For the glory of the land, I can probably put up with the pain of failing at my art. –June
PS: I learned about the workshop from Facebook, but if you are interested, you can contact Hyon Fielding.