Saturday, October 8, 2011

Part II--A Book, A Teacher, and Intuitive Learning

Have you ever wanted to do something so badly, that you were equally afraid you couldn't?  That pretty much sums up how I felt about becoming an artist.  And just to set that worry straight for any readers that feel something similar, if you love art and have always wanted to draw or paint, you already are an artist.  The becoming part is simply a matter of becoming familiar with the medium and developing skills through practice.  
Even though I was disheartened by my initial class, my interest in watercolor did not lessen.  I browsed the local art store for books and magazines to aid my attempts to paint.  It was during one of these visits that I found the treasure that shaped my art endeavors for the next ten years, a book called, Watercolor:  A New Beginning, by Ann K. Lindsay.
I opened the book while still in the store, as we often do, to leaf through it to see what it had to say.  I found topics like, "Being of Two Minds", describing the rational vs. the intuitive mind and how these two parts of our brain learn and approach things differently; "Managing Your Inner Critic" suggesting ways to manage your inner fear and why that critic develops inside; and, "Just in Case", addressing feelings of fear and resistance while trying demonstrations in the book.  Ann writes:  "Art is our heart coming right out of us onto the paper, into the world; no wonder we feel so vulnerable and easily discouraged".
This was the book and the instructor I had been looking for.  In the book, I found step-by-step instructions that actually started at the beginning with putting paint in the palette, suggesting inexpensive ways to get started.  Subsequent chapters demonstrated ways to play with pigment and water on paper, covered the basics on colors explaining primary, secondary, tertiary and neutral colors, and progressed to painting a subject using values with tips on drawing, and adding backgrounds to your paintings.
Exploring how different pigments react to salt.

This book, with its nurturing and encouraging approach, gave me the courage to feel excited about watercolor, again. So excited in fact, I traveled from east Tennessee to upper state New York the next summer, in 2000, to take what I consider to be my first watercolor class, this time with Ann Lindsay. This journey was an adventure and magnificent in so many ways. But most of all, I want to say a little more to you about that tenderness we feel as beginning artists, a feeling that can often hold us back.
Even in the gentle and nurturing environment of a class of true beginners with an intuitive and mindful instructor, my first attempt to put my art out into the world in that first day of class was truly frightening.

In my journal I wrote:
July 31st, 2000:  [Monday--day one] "I had a panic attack--throat closing, flushed, tears--over the show-and-tell thing we did after the first exercise today.  How could I be self-conscious, uneasy over splashing color and water on paper in no particular pattern? It is beyond my understanding sometimes, what sets off my anxiety."

August 4th: [Friday night, as the week of classes ended] "I have enjoyed this tremendously....Ann says, art is the soul coming out on paper. Maybe that's why this art is so very sensitive an issue for me. There aren't too many ways that I share my soul with others....When I shift to expressing who I am inside, talk about me, whether in a novel or a watercolor or sketch or photograph, that is a very sensitive moment. I feel vulnerable and exposed. Hence, my panic attack on the first day of class. It was less about what we were looking at, what I had created on paper, and more about how much I have always wanted to do this."

And to all of you artists out there--keep painting!

Links and Resources:

Part I to this post:  Books, A Difficult Start and A Passion for Watercolor

Ann K Lindsay's website

Watercolor:  A New Beginning.   Even though this book is out of print, I highly recommend it for everyone who loves watercolor.  It's a beginning for beginners and a "new beginning" for watercolor artists at any level. You may find signed copies from the author here.  Click these links for book contents and excerpts.

Secondary market copies at Amazon can be found here:  Watercolor:  A New Beginning

5 comments:

  1. Thanks for writing this, Vickie. You have described exactly how I feel right now. I have always loved art and always believed I could not do it. Just recently I finally began to try. I was surprised to realize that I could. I am far from what I want to be, but I could paint and make it at least look in part like I wanted.
    And I have this very book on my wish list at amazon. I believe I will get it. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh Vickie, what a lovely post. It should be a primer for the beginner. You have expressed so well what I see with my students. Ann Lindsay sounds like a tremendous teacher. So glad you found her during your beginning steps. Your work always catches my eye. Thank you for following your heart and sharing with us!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Beth,
    So glad you kept right on painting. I know you will enjoy this book. It offers so many ways to play with watercolor and lots of encouragement right along with it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you, Pam! I am very glad I found Ann, too. I noticed your recent workshop in Beaufort, one of my favorite places to visit!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think every artist goes through this, I found I only progressed when I relaxed and experimented - the more I painted loosely, the more I learned!

    ReplyDelete

Welcome! I am glad to hear your comments, questions and feedback! Vickie

Ocean Trail at Rancho Palos Verdes Preserve, California--2015

Ocean Trail at Rancho Palos Verdes Preserve, California--2015

Joshua Tree National Forest, California, with son Chad and daughter Thuan--2015

Joshua Tree National Forest, California, with son Chad and daughter Thuan--2015
Photo credit: Thuan Tram

Bird banding with Mark Armstrong at Seven Islands State Birding Park - 2014

Bird banding with Mark Armstrong at Seven Islands State Birding Park - 2014
Photo courtesy of Jody Stone

Birds Close-up

Birds Close-up
Photo courtesy of Karen Wilkenson

Enjoying Gray Jays in Churchill, Manitoba

Enjoying Gray Jays in Churchill, Manitoba
Photo courtesy of Blue Sky Expeditions

A dog sled experience with Blue Sky Expeditions, Churchill, MB--2014

A dog sled experience with Blue Sky Expeditions, Churchill, MB--2014
Photo courtesy of Blue Sky Expeditions

Churchill, Manitoba--2014

Churchill, Manitoba--2014
Photo courtesy of Blue Sky

2014 Hummingbird Festival

2014 Hummingbird Festival
Photo courtesy of Jody Stone

Smithsonian National Zoo with one of my Whooping Crane art banners and son, John--2014

Smithsonian National Zoo with one of my Whooping Crane art banners and son, John--2014

Muir Woods on the Dipsea Trail at Stinson Beach, California--2014

Muir Woods on the Dipsea Trail at Stinson Beach, California--2014
Photo courtesy of Wendy Pitts Reeves

Checking out the gulls at Stinson Beach--2014

Checking out the gulls at Stinson Beach--2014
Photo courtesy of Wendy Pitts Reeves

Discovery Hike in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska--2012

Discovery Hike in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska--2012
Photo courtesy of Ruth Carter
Related Posts with Thumbnails