Day 30. Try it, you might like it!

True confession: when I started this watercolor project on day 1, I was not expecting to actually like watercolor. I was just looking for a way to clean out my painting studio at the same time that I kept painting. I could paint watercolors at the coffee table or in the kitchen– unobtrusive, innocuous. But I’ve learned to appreciate their quieter power– the way they can softly suggest light hitting a braid. 

This is what has transpired: I have completely cleared out and reorganized my studio. It’s now a place I want to work. I’ll post some before and after shots tomorrow. When all the clutter was gone, I was left with just enough space for a new addition– a watercolor station.

You just never know. I’m going to tell my son this lesson of watercolors the next time he tells me he just doesn’t like broccoli. 

I’m working hard to get all the paintings from this month ready to find new homes. I discovered an alternative to framing that I’m pretty excited about. Below are a couple of the watercolors I’ve prepped so far. And for my fellow artists, here’s the video that explains how to do it. 

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Day 29. Making do.

 

I’ve been really inspired by some fellow 31ers doing figurative work this month. I haven’t been able to get to a figure drawing group lately, so I’ve opted for some photographic resources online. Working from photographs isn’t nearly as good as from life, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that doing the work in less-than-perfect circumstances is better than not doing it at all or, worse, waiting (eternally) for the circumstances to become perfect.  This painting is tiny– I’ll probably crop it to 4x4 inches, but I’m thinking about creating a second version– much larger and with palette knife/oil paint. What do you think?

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Day 28. Aimless Love

Final stretch, the last mile. 

When I was in college I had the pleasure of attending a literary conference where poet Billy Collins was the keynote speaker. I’ll never forget his description of his writing routine: each morning he begins with a haiku as a warmup for his day’s work. I cannot help but wonder if perhaps I should continue, even after this 31 days ends, to begin my days with a watercolor sketch. They feel the perfect alter on which to honor all my aimless loves.

Aimless Love by Billy Collins

This morning as I walked along the lakeshore,
I fell in love with a wren
and later in the day with a mouse
the cat had dropped under the dining room table.
 
In the shadows of an autumn evening,
I fell for a seamstress
still at her machine in the tailor’s window,
and later for a bowl of broth,
steam rising like smoke from a naval battle.
 
This is the best kind of love, I thought,
without recompense, without gifts,
or unkind words, without suspicion,
or silence on the telephone.
 
The love of the chestnut,
the jazz cap and one hand on the wheel.
 
No lust, no slam of the door –
the love of the miniature orange tree,
the clean white shirt, the hot evening shower,
the highway that cuts across Florida.
 
No waiting, no huffiness, or rancor –
just a twinge every now and then
 
for the wren who had built her nest
on a low branch overhanging the water
and for the dead mouse,
still dressed in its light brown suit.
 
But my heart is always propped up
in a field on its tripod,
ready for the next arrow.
 
After I carried the mouse by the tail
to a pile of leaves in the woods,
I found myself standing at the bathroom sink
gazing down affectionately at the soap,
 
so patient and soluble,
so at home in its pale green soap dish.
I could feel myself falling again
as I felt its turning in my wet hands
and caught the scent of lavender and stone.

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Day 27. Finally.

Well, folks, this is my FIFTH cardinal watercolor this month but only the first I’m posting. The others are lovingly resting in the “no” pile. One of my favorite birds has turned my art nemesis, but in today’s painting I breathed a little “finally.” And it’s not because this guy is perfect. He’s actually looser, and less “perfect” than the others– much closer to what I’m after. When I stopped trying so hard, this little one decided to visit. He wasn’t interested in spending time with someone so tense, someone who was assigning too much importance to him, and so he waited for the calmer, more accepting version of me. And I’m glad he did.

All the watercolors this month will be available on my site early February. Subscribers to my mailing list will have the first look at the new release. You can subscribe here

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Day 26. Taking up space and losing control

I love spotting these birds in my front yard where that little flash of red can be seen through the grey of the trees.

I’m learning to use more water and let it lead instead of always trying to be in charge– blurring more edges, washing away what I thought was important and seeing the water transform it into something better.

Art is both about taking up space and losing control.

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