The goal of taking a class has always been, obviously, to learn. Incremental self-improvement is fine, and I’m a huge advocate of digging into a problem on your own and trying to wade through the weeds to find the harvestable vegetables in the mess of it all. That said, having one’s hand held a little bit is never a waste.
The fifth Thursday night of my eight week class happened last night, and after a hulluva shitty day, three hours with no other obligations than putting paint onto paper in an air conditioned classroom with some groovy jazz streaming in the background was perhaps, for the first legitimate time in a long time, earned and deserved.
Barely a few days ago I posted on an unguided attempt to watercolour in the form of a scene from a run that I’d turned into a rough bit of art. Sure, I’d used some of the lesson that I’d learned to do a piece that was much more complex than almost everything I’d attempted on my own since starting on this painting adventure. And sure, it’s a decent quality “beginner” piece that well-documents progress on this effort.
You know there is a but.
I attempted to tackle some things I’d nary tried previously and the results are telling.
What I didn’t mention was that upon showing it to my wife and asking if she recognized the scene, she said “sure, it’s a path through the dog park…”
“No. Well…. um, no. It’s supposed to be a creek through the ravine. But I take your point.”
wet wooshes on wet
It's not that clouds are tough to paint, but man... they are sometime tough to paint. Just when I think I've got it almost figured out, along comes some other complexity and my "that accidentally worked" doesn't work the second time or something gets overdone and now they're not clouds anymore or... sigh. Clouds are tough to paint. At some point perhaps I'll start to document all the little clever ways of painting clouds but so far I think my favourite is the one I learned last night in class. All credit to my instructor here, but here's the verdict: a wet-on-wet gradient is set into the sky of the scene, and then, rinsing and 80%-ish drying the brush for each woosh, whispy whorls of clouds are drawn with abandon across the still-wet sky gradient, pulling a bit of the blue (or whatever colour skies are on your world) paint from the gradient and allowing it to slurp and slither and blur into soft tendrils of cloud-like trails across the sky. The proper name for these types of clouds are cirri, but seeing as they are common on a prairie summer day I think I'll be getting more practice with this technique soon.
Coincidentally then, maybe, in tackling a west coast beach scene in last night’s class I — three days late — came across the solution to my wandering through the wilderness alone attempt at water and wet sandy mud.
Should I have been able to figure this out on my own? Well, yeah. Eventually. Maybe after another three or four stabs at it, another twenty bucks worth of paper and paint invested on my mediocre doodles, and sure, I would have perhaps, likely, almost certainly stumbled on the correct answer to my it’s-a-creek-not-a-trail problem.
Or I could just have it demonstrated in a recreation centre multipurpose room with groovy jazz humming in the background. If I’m smart I’ll not just tackle my homework this weekend, taking another stab at the assigned beach scene, but I’ll fish out that picture of the creek once more and see if I’m telling the truth in this post and I actually did learn something after all.