Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Water, water, everywhere . . . .

I'm sure Coleridge had enough of water, judging from my title line borrowed from his poem,  but when it comes to painting, I'll never get enough of watercolours.

                            Shetland Sheepdog

I love the clarity and brightness of them, sitting as they do, on white, white paper that shines up through the often translucent paint.  I love the challenge of them.  They are not an easy medium to master - not that I've done that yet, but after so many years, I have a pretty good idea how to make them behave and do what I want.  There is still a lot for me to learn though, as it is a tricky medium full of surprises.  So I study the works of some of the major watercolour artists, - two American and one British gentlemen in particular to see what they choose for colours to create atmosphere in any given scene and how they apply the paint.  Then without any sense of copying, (horrors!) I struggle to apply what I've learned from studying their work, to my own paintings in such a way that I am creating my own path through the water world.  Life is an ongoing lesson, in paint and in real time.

                            Australian Shepherd

I love the wonderful washes of juicy colour I can achieve with this medium, and it's just as great at doing the detailed work I love to add to each painting.  
Occasionally I dip into another medium for a change to help keep me fresh, but I consider myself a watercolourist first and foremost.  It's only by putting in consistent, long hours that you can move forward with something - anything, that you want to do well. 
The only thing that bothers me just a tiny bit about watercolours is that in some circles, it is looked on as a slightly inferior medium . . .  that artists who paint primarily in watercolour are not "as much an artist" as those who choose oil, acrylic, etc.  Well, I politely DISAGREE!   Watercolours are quite permanent if they are done with quality pigment on a high quality linen "paper" such as Arches (or a few other fine watercolour papers), and if  they are properly framed/stored.  We (collectors and museums) still have some watercolours from the 1700's when the medium first became popular and advances were made in the paint's production. This medium takes skill and dedication to master, and though I don't feel I'm quite there yet, that's where I'm heading, or as close to it as I can get.  It's a demanding, challenging medium that tests the mettle and skill of the artist and totally enchants me, and I hope I can pass that enchantment with them on to you, the viewer.  I'm a Water-girl, and proud of it!

Heather Anderson

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