Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Water(color) Water(color) Everywhere!
hu•bris (noun) excessive pride or self confidence • (in Greek tragedy) excessive pride toward or defiance of the gods, leading to nemesis. ORIGIN Greek.
As a youthful art student I was, I think it's fair to say, quite full of myself. I knew just what I wanted (to paint big canvases, murals, and frescoes) and thought I knew what I didn't want. I had the good fortune to attend a school with a mural program and an outstanding drawing program (with instructors who, among other things, really could teach human anatomy.) But the painting program had one requirement that I had no use for. (Or at least so I thought.) All painting majors were required to complete at least one semester of watercolor!
Well, being the arrogant young know-it-all that I was, I had no use for the medium. In fact, I was of the opinion that no serious artist had any use for it either. Obviously watercolor was for Sunday painters. Right? And, so, not wanting to waste my time when I could be producing "more serious works" in oils, I petitioned the senior faculty for a waiver of the watercolor requirement, was granted the dispensation, and went blissfully (or should I say, "blithely"?) on my way.
Fast forward a few years. I've graduated and am set up in a new studio in a new state and have just come up with an idea for a new series of paintings when it strikes me: (This is the "Ah, hay!" moment. The ancient Greeks knew it. Where there is hubris, sooner or later there's gonna be a blind date with a goddess named Nemesis.) "This series is going to be about water." And, "Wouldn't it be great if I did it in watercolor?" Oops!
So, I spent the next two summers struggling, teaching myself the rudimentaries of what I was to learn was a marvelously expressive (and challenging) medium.... And, when I eventually returned to my alma mater for a reunion, I made it a point to look up my dear old faculty mentor and a good laugh at my expense. (I've also shared it with students in every watercolor, sketching, and journaling class I've taught since.)
To paraphrase Douglas Adams's Holistic Detective, Dirk Gently: "We don't always end up where we want to be. But we usually end up where we need to be." (And, if we're luck, we'll get to have a little fun along the way! ;-D)
How about you? Have you ever had an opportunity to grow as an artist, perhaps despite your own hubris or "better" judgement?
Please join me again next week when I will have a new posting to share with you. In the meantime I'll wish you "Happy trails and fun sketching!"