Petal Light #1, Watercolor on Arches 140# Cold Press Paper , 10"h x 8"w, WIP 1
This painting started as a larger version, about 16x20... I was painting it fanatically trying to made the deadline for this year's LWS show deadline...
It just did not look right. The more I am desperately trying to make it work, the more it does not.
Out of frustration I took February's Watercolor Artist magazine, and started surfing through the beautiful paintings there for inspirations. And I came across this wonderful painter: Marlin Rotach. Her stunning watercolors made my jaw drop. I opened one after another vivid, luscious floral paintings from her web gallery, prying into the large images (some of them have very high pixel resolutions), trying to decipher how on earth those smooth, large, wet-into-wet transitions were accomplished, and how those subtle color variations in the dark shadows were obtained. I took out scrape watercolor paper and started to imitate and experiment -- of course with little success. Even more frustrated, I went back to my own painting, only to find out I don't even know what effects I want to achieve in it and how I should obtain them any more -- the one who tries to imitate other's graceful strides ends up forgetting his own normal way of walking...
Suddenly I realized -- this is not a process that could be rushed, or accelerated by inherent of other people's tried and true method. When you are facing that beautiful reference photo, and that daunting blank sheet of paper, every decision you made belongs to you, and you only. Techniques and methods can be learned by imitating a master's painting and learn from it, but ultimately, how to apply them toward your own set of problems when you are faced with your own subject and you own vision of how it would turn out as a finished work, is something that will only be acquired by those long, lonely hours in the studio, between you and your painting -- many, many sheets of painting, one little step at a time.
So I took the big sheet off the board, and started this small study. Immediately after I started apply the first layer of underpainting, I realized I have painted some of the leaves in light too dark, and the colors were exactly forming the shapes I have intended. But I'm ok with it. There would be another study. I will learn a little by painting this one, by making many mistakes and trying to rectify them, and then apply what I have learned to the next study, then the next, until one day it comes natural to me --
It's a long and hard journey, but doing and learning is the biggest joy on it. Process, not just the product, is also the purpose of this journey. It starts here, now.