in the garden and by the lake.

Almost a year ago to the day I found myself standing in the aisles of a local art supply story browsing the watercolour painting supplies.

This is a site about that journey. From then to now, and then on and on, forward and beyond.

I’ve painted almost a hundred pictures since that day, dabbling in colour and form and shape and style. And to be honest, most of it was mediocre.

Then suddenly, things started to click. It wasn’t revolutionary nor was it magical. It was just a year’s worth of thoughtful, deliberate learning and practice culminating in work that I wasn’t entirely embarrassed to show around. Hardly works of fine art, but definitely leaning towards competency.

And something inside me realized that to continue growing I was going to need to be a lot less scattershot in my approach. Learning and becoming better is part practice, of course, but it is also part adapting and correcting to when things go wrong and remarking upon when things go right. For example:

Wash & Layers

I bought an online course led by a sketcher and artist whose work I admire. His name is Felix Scheinberger and among other things, his explanation of the application of watercolour was the explanation that finally seemed to click in my brain about layering paints. What I took away, and what I applied in this painting was to treat the first layer of paint as a rough, diluted wash, meant to colour much (if not all) of the intended painting area with colour. Following the wash drying on the page, additional finer layers of watercolour are sparingly added to enrich the wash and enhance the details.

As I keep these notes for my sketches, posting thoughts and insights as often (or as rarely) as I create a work that I feel was a personal success and something I can learn from, ideally this becomes a collection of anecdotes and insights into my own personal learnings, helping myself grow and maybe some other random reader of these words to take some inspiration and understanding as well.

My New Friend Purple

Over the last year I've been shy about colours. By shy, I mean I've been reluctant and cautious about using colours that my brain doesn't necessarily (or literally) see in the scene. This has been to the detriment of my art, and as I befriend a new colour that is (a) very rarely, literally in nature, and yet (b) is apparently abstractly everywhere in nature, I'm finding a dramatic increase in the splendour of what I'm creating with the brush just by using it more. That colour is purple. Purple is shadows. Purple is depth. Purple is richness in the leafiness of a tree, texture in a rock, and curls of hair atop a head. In my early painting days I never used purple at all. Now, I look at the painting I've put down in the last month and I struggle to find something without it.

I took the day off a little over a week ago and, packing up my art supply bag and slinging my easel over my shoulder, I drove to a local botanical garden. I spent four hours wandering around, sitting in interesting spots, and plein air sketching-slash-watercolour painting whatever struck my fancy.

One of the gardens is a Japanese-style garden, built in consultation with cultural representatives, and stuffed with little (faux?) temples, bonsai-style trees, fish ponds and stepped stones. I planted myself on the shore of the pond a little after lunchtime and painted a scene.