Oh the ‘Orrors

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.

Oh dear.

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.

Call for more info.: 541-815-2402
Email: hyonart@gmail.com   http://www.hyonfieldingstudio.com/

This entry was posted in Art, Fossil Oregon, landscape, watercolor and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Oh the ‘Orrors

  1. June says:


    Now that I’m back, I see that your advice is the best yet. I don’t do collages, much, but I can see that collages would be a better use of this wonderful heavy paper.

    And we got to Twickenham (Oregon) a tiny jewel in the middle of the canyon of the John Day River — about 10 ranches, unreal winter wheat bordered by waves of cheat grass (horrible in July but marvelous right now) and stacks of granite and colored walls of rock all round. I’ve wanted to get to Twickenham for years.


  2. Olga says:

    What I learned from an attempt at watercolour:
    1. under the shower it leaves interesting marks after washing lots off;
    2. torn up, striking collages can be made.

    What is life without new experiences? Have fun!


  3. June says:

    Visualize before diving in. Visualize before. Visualize. Visualize. Visualize.

    Or Think, think, think.

    OK, maybe I’ve got it. At any rate there might be some sun to catch even if the painting is lousy. At my best, I can put aside my oil habits and pull together my watercolor thoughts. At worst — well, it’s only paper and paint. Paper is easier to throw out than masonite or even canvas. It’s recyclable:-)

    Thanks for checking in Margaret.


  4. margaret says:

    Think “oriental approach” (visualise before diving in) and you’ll be fine!


  5. June says:

    Cynthia –snort– June


  6. Oh, June, you’ll be fine.

    Or not. 😉


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