Now, With Feeling

The other day I was moving around the piles in my art area–pretending I was cleaning up–when I came across my first “real” watercolor painting. It is about 12 to 15 years old, and seeing it again surprised me in many ways with the memories it holds.

First, I remembered how disappointed I was when I had finished this painting. Somehow, it did not look the way I had intended. But now that I can no longer remember what I had in mind, I think, “well, it’s not so bad.” Years later, I find I can be easier on myself.

Then I remembered how much effort I had put into this painting: I had taken a recent photograph of my own, enlarged it on a copy machine, then traced it, transferred the tracing to watercolor paper, and then finally started painting. Whew! And the painting had taken hours–when I think about it, I can still feel the tension in my back and shoulders from hunching over that piece for longer than I should have. (It didn’t help that I had no art desk at the time and worked on the coffee table in the living room while sitting on the floor.)

No wonder I stayed away from watercolors for a while!

Today is different. In the past 12 or 15 years, I have learned that if working at art isn’t going to make me relaxed and at peace, I shouldn’t bother. As a result, my style is very different from what I attempted before: simple, sometimes abstracted, and only what I can create in the brief span of time when the kids are occupied with projects of their own. And instead of trying to achieve realism, I’m more interested in expressing feelings and emotions.

Yes, I may have given up my efforts for technical mastery, but I have found what enjoyment art can bring to my life. That seems like a fair trade to me.

10 thoughts on “Now, With Feeling

  1. Of all the blogs I follow, yours Laura, is my favorit. I love reading your posts, you always say what I need to hear! And your write so well. Right before I read this I was thinking about this purple and green monthly challenge and stressing , can you believe it. (yes, I think you could) I really needed to read this post, right now, tonight. F the challenge, I’m going to paint what I want. Its not a job, its supposed to be my enJOYment. I just blogged and showed a painting that is one that would usually stress me out but it just came while sitting at the table. I was working on something completely different and sort of just started the other, no straining, no thinking. Which is unusual for me becasue when I paint realistic its more stress than doing an abstract. I have to do more of those! Like you said, if working at art isn’t going to make me relaxed and at peace, I shouldn’t bother. GREAT post:)) thank you xo

    • I am always humbled by your comments! And let me just add that so many times I write what I need to hear too–once I’ve figured it out, I need to write it, so that two weeks from now when I am stressed I can read it and remind myself!

    • I got distracted–you know those times when there are more supplies to try than hours in the day? My next post (which I hope to finish tomorrow) will explain more? But the Inktense are still on the list… 🙂

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