“Hobble Creek Canyon”
watercolor and ink by Jamie Anne Blake
In contemplating what to write about this month, I wanted to share the things I learned from a watercolor workshop I took this past month. The class was taught by the talented David Drummond in Jackson Hole, Wyoming- and in one of my favorite spots- the Wilcox Gallery, just a couple miles out of town in the shadow of the Teton mountains. Wow, what a time I had! You might say, “Well, I’m not an artist!” or “I don’t really care about watercolor painting,” but the things I learned taught me valuable lessons that transition into real life. Huge realizations! Here are a few things that my buddy, David Drummond taught me:
The way you treat others is so important, and it has lasting effects.
I can’t tell you the number of times in college that I left class defeated and feeling like a terrible artist because of something a teacher had said. But David Drummond was completely different- he was a fantastic teacher! He had such a welcoming personality and so much wit, and he really had a way of making people feel like they could be a great artist. Even though he’d say, “I’m going to walk around the room and knock you all on the head and tell you your doing it all wrong,” he would do it in such a loving way– a good realization that we all need to treat each other with kindness, because we all have limitless potential.
Don’t be afraid of using water. It’s called watercolor for a reason.
This was one of the things I learned that just blew me away! It was like David Drummond did knock me on the head and said, “You need to use more water!” And then the light bulb went off and I realized that in all my years of painting with watercolor, I never used quite enough. As human beings, we all strive for control in our lives. I was using less water so I could control where the paint would go. I admit it- I am someone who thrives on routine; I like knowing how my day is going to go. But when we let go and step out of our routine just a little bit, that’s when the most beautiful things occur.
As a watercolor artist, there is something to be said for knowing how much water is on your brush, and what it is going to do when it hits the paper. That is your greatest knowledge.
How true that is- and what a gift that would be! I am constantly wondering what I can do to be a better wife/mother/daughter, and knowing what to do and how someone is going to react to a situation would be so valuable! And as a new (ish) mother, it would be a dream to be able to always gage the needs of my child.
The quickest way to ruin a watercolor is too many brush strokes.
I can’t tell you how many times I have done this! Waaaaayyy too many. You work on a certain area over and over again to add detail and depth to a painting, but more often than not, it just ends up looking overworked. The trick is learning to acknowledge when something is done, and then to just leave it alone. I have heard the phrase before that often the first solution you come up with is the best one, and I tend to agree.
Half the job is learning how to fix your boo-boos.
Isn’t that how we all go about life? Making mistakes, learning how to fix them, and then making another one? But that’s okay- that’s how we learn and grow. And I tell you what, watercolor is messy . . . and so is life!
“Some people say, ‘I like blooms!’ Well, I do too. In a certain place. I like dogs too, but I don’t like them in my trash can.”
A bloom in watercolor refers to a blossom looking shape that occurs when water hits a partially dry painting. They can be a total pain, but also beautiful when you want them there! I loved what David Drummond said about them- a good reminder that there is a time and a place for everything.
Friendship has no age boundaries.
Out of the 14 others in the class, I quickly learned that I was much younger than everyone else there. Many had so much more life experience than me– having raised their families, now retired with grandchildren of their own, and pulling out their paints after years of them sitting on the shelf. I was nicknamed “the kid” . . . but you know what? I had some of the best conversations with all of these ladies. By the end of the class, we were all friends and we hugged each other goodbye. You can make the best of friends in the most unlikely places- and it doesn’t matter the age! We all have something to relate.
This class is just what I needed to rejuvenate and to jump back into being an artist. It left me wanting to pull out my paints more and to take that very necessary time for myself. Naptimes have gotten a lot more creative around here. I encourage you all to iron out some “me” time, whatever that may be! And I assure you that you’ll learn so much more about yourself– and get just the uplift you need.
This article was written by Jamie Blake.