Building up a Painting in Stages.
From my book " How to Paint Colour and Light in Watercolour"
Have you ever been stuck on a Suduko puzzle? Often when I am on a train I will pass the time by working through a few suduko puzzles.This is after my pencil is firmly placed in my bag because my favourite way to spend travelling time is sketching. But I also love to give my brain a work out by playing with numbers and logical thinking of their placement in suduko books.
It hit me this morning how these puzzles are related to so much in life and art. Just think of when you first started painting or anything else for that matter. Driving,cooking,swimming,playing golf or tennis; just about every skill really needs to be learned. If we start at a young age our skills improve as do our results the more we practise. We wouldn't jump into a car and expect to drive it immediately without taking time to absorb all the information we need to know to be safe on the roads. Jumping into the deep end of a swimming pool with no knowledge of how to swim may be a senseless thing to do but I guess then our survival instincts may just kick in enough to help us make it out alive again.
It's incredible then that when some pick up a paintbrush, no matter how inexperienced they are their aim is to paint something recognisable immediately. Even to the point of framing! But does every painting have to be a success? The journey in simply playing with colour can be both relaxing, rewarding and a learning curve that leads us to better results as we grow as an artist. Every single step we take is a step in the right direction because we learn from the mistakes far more than our successes.
Suduko puzzles have levels and the more you do the easier they seem to become. There is simple suduko which are easy to complete, then the slightly harder puzzles and then those that are aimed to really tax the brain. There are always those who will complete the more complex puzzles with ease and there are others who slowly will work out where each number should be to the point of giving up when it gets far too tough and non enjoyable. And it these two words that are soul destroying.
" Giving Up"
They herald a sense of failure. As adults this is harder to face than as a child who will merrily skip to the next distraction. Worse still is the habit of dwelling on the failed attempts rather than seeing the beauty in small positives which can lead to a far brighter tomorrow. If we give up we will never succeed. When thinking about Suduko we readily understand that every single printed puzzle has answers. All are do-able even though we may not just be the ones to do them! None are impossible to complete but we may feel they are at times. But it is our decision of whether to struggle to overcome the problem or give up.
Working in watercolour is just like that. There is an answer to everything as we simply need to focus on finding the solution. One that suits us whether it is style, needing more practice, finding the time to actually paint or possibly finding a way of recieving help that leads us to where we wish to be. The main point is we CAN achieve absolutely anything if we look for the right way to find our own solution. Unlike Suduko life throws us headaches at times that are completely out of our control but we still all have the power to find an answer, no matter how hard it is, to deal with each one.
So life and watercolour is just like a suduko puzzle which we can enjoy or not. But at least we get to make that decision.
I love life, I love puzzles and fortunately I adore experimenting in my art. I am consistently setting myself new "puzzles" to enjoy which means new goals to achieve and my workshops actually reflect that.
I am working on a very large painting which really is similar to a puzzle in that it is coming together in stages, some simple,some complex and the combination is creating a fabulous and interesting result.
Life IS like a suduko puzzle and my art seems to be as well!.
Thank you so much to everyone who has already contacted me for my workshops next year. Yes,they will be limited in number due to the increase in my exhibition and gallery work but my aim is to not only share my passion for working in this incredible medium but also share my journey in ways that hopefully help others to solve their own puzzles and quests!
For a full programme of exciting 2011 workshops please contact me on