Sunday, October 02, 2011

Virtual Painter

I've been studying watercolor. I haven't taken a class; in fact, I haven't painted anything. But I've read four books on the subject, and now I've moved on to YouTube videos. This may sound strange to you, but to me it's progress. When you consider that I used to consider my job done once I'd simply bought the book, the fact that I'm reading them is a giant leap forward. I never intended to paint. I still don't want to paint with anything but watercolors. It all started like this:

In between appointments for physical therapy and the chiropractor, I stopped at a coffee house for lunch and discovered a lovely wall full of used books for sale. I was drawn to the cover of Painting With Water-Soluble Color Pencils. I'd never heard of water-soluble color pencils, and had no desire to paint. So the book jacket must have been pretty seductive. I bought it, and started reading immediately.

A week later I found myself back at the coffee house, this time looking for a Jeffrey Deaver mystery novel. Instead, I came home with Painting Greeting Cards in Watercolor. Another pretty book.

I realized both books were rather advanced (for me, almost anything on the subject would be), so I hit Amazon and found two books on watercolors for beginners. I learned about sable brushes and 140-lb. paper, flat washes and graduated washes, palettes and paints. I'm now reading the most beautiful book yet on the subject: The Watercolorist's Essential Notebook.

This week I added YouTube videos to my art education. YouTube has tons of watercolor videos, so it's fun to pick and choose. Some are remarkably unhelpful, but most are fascinating. I have a few favorite artist/instructors . . . the southern lady who sits at a table, the young man who works at an easel in his charming UK studio, the glamour puss with the French manicure who paints undeniably gorgeous flowers. And then there's the New Yorker I enjoy listening to because he sounds like home, although in my opinion he needs to learn to leave well enough alone. I've been known to say out loud, "You just ruined it!" The more I watch, the more I learn, the harder it looks.

I probably know enough now to talk a reasonable ball game. It would not be beyond my sense of mischief to try out this theory at social gathering one of these days. If someone politely asks, "What do you do?" I'll say, "I'm a watercolorist," and see what happens. Probably nothing. But whatever happens, it's sure to be safer than putting brush to paper.