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.


crystal said...

Watercolor painting was what I learned in college - loved it. I gave it up when I found out about the eye disease, but just recently I thought I'd try it again, though I don't know if I can see well enough to still do it. I got courageous and bought a block (the paper stuck together in a pad) and the paint, and I still had my old brushes, but then I lost my nerve. Maybe we can encourage each other to paint?

Indigo Bunting said...

I love the idea of you being a watercolorist at a party. Do keep us informed of your watercolor adventures.

Susan said...

Oh, Crystal, you have to do it! If you can't see small, paint big! What's the worst that can happen? If you don't like the results at first, remind yourself that it was better than 99.9% of the population could do, and try again.

By all means feel free to prod me about painting, but not until after Christmas. ;-)

Thanks, IB. I will report back!

Eulalia Benejam Cobb said...

This is great. I love it when people have a well-developed sense of self irony.

Amanda said...

I hope we will be notified when you finally put brush to paper....waiting with bated breath :)

crystal said...

Hey Susan, how's it going - is your grandaughter ok, the kitties?

Susan said...

It's going well, Crystal--fingers crossed. ;-)

My granddaughter is walking short distances unassisted, and is a gorgeous peacock for Halloween. We took knitting lessons together via DVD and actually made some progress. She's driving, too!

Peachy is getting spayed next week (but don't tell her). She's very affectionate and lots of fun. My son and DIL's new house is going up next door--yay!!

Hope all is well with you, too. Also hope you're moving towards painting again.

crystal said...

That's great about your granddaughter. I won't tell Peachy :) The only new thing here is that my sister has bought a house. I was always so worried she was going to move far away, so I'm very happy about this - now she lives about 10 mins away by car. Alos thinking about trying to write a novel again, but I don't know if that's a good idea or a bad one ;)

Susan said...

It's a good idea, Crystal. What's the worst that could happen? I can't think of anything bad.

Susan said...

PS: Glad to hear about your sister's new house!