Quite a few months ago I ran across a trailer of a video of John Salminen at work (ccpvideos.com). If you are an avid watercolor painter you already know of John’s ability, especially with urban landscape and much, much more. He was revealing some of his method for dealing with final highlights. While most of us strive to reserve the white of our paper for our brightest lights there are times when either it fails to work out or we need final adjustments to bring a watercolor to a desired conclusion. In the video John revealed a tool that I think he learned about from one of his students. A number of painters are no doubt aware of Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser. It is not new and there have been those who have written negative reviews fearing that the product contained some ingredient that would be detrimental to paints and paper. John took the initiative to contact the manufacturer and was assured that the secret of the product lies in its construction not in chemical ingredients. This is a simple video not a lot of fancy technique. I provide it for those of you who have not tried the product. My students at Artists on the Bluff have found numerous ways to make use of it.
As a painter you want to always remain open to new ideas and different techniques. I would caution against merely acquiring gadgets for the sake of acquisition. Engage with new ideas and new approaches in order to see what works for you. Be prepared to stumble a bit here and there. At the same time don’t be so open minded that your brains fall out!
This is probably where I digress from a lot of current thinking. I have just stated that one should stay curious and then I mention practicality. What am I trying to say? You really need to know the basics before you reach for the stars. What do YOU know about your paper? Not what have you read about it. How many washes have you applied to your favorite sheet? Do you KNOW by experiences (both good and disappointing) what your chosen paper will do? So you have a favorite paper; have you tried others to compare? The same question applies to your brushes and to your paints. Even more important, are your drawing skills where they ought to be? If not work on them. Learn the basics of your craft. Many students are taught to disregard craftsmanship. That is unfortunate for regardless of your approach competent workmanship should be a part of your goal.
Creating a relationship:
This may sound like a strange sub heading. In reality getting to know your materials is a lot like creating a relationship. By working with your materials you begin to come to know what to expect. While it will not come overnight, it will come provided you are faithful to continue to work. There will be disappointing episodes but that is not all bad. While it may feel like it at the moment you may come to realize that you learn far more from your perceived failures than you ever learn from your perceived successes. It may sting a bit but you learn.
Hang in there:
If you are a committed painter you really don’t need to read this line of encouragement. You already know that your abilities are sharpened by consistent productive work habits. That word discipline comes to mind. You need a schedule, you need to commit yourself to working. For some this is the most difficult thing. If you lack certain skills find a teacher even if it is an online source. Person to person is the ultimate in my opinion. However, in some cases that is not possible. If you have the drive and discipline you WILL find a way.
May 2016 be a prosperous season for you!
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Enjoy personal instruction at Artists on the Bluff in Bluff Park, Alabama. On going watercolor classes with Don Rankin every Thursday, except holidays. Contact Ms. Linda Williams at Artists On The Bluff, Bluff Park, Alabama (205) 532-2769. http://www.artistsonthebluff.com. OR ..firstname.lastname@example.org 205 637-5946