Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Student

I live with the best of men.  He has always been a student as well as a teacher.  The same is true of my son.  I have come only recently to university teaching, and find it to be quite energizing, ground upon which to engage and perhaps rethink operational risk models and practices.  I take that same love of the practice to clients.

When I took up watercolor last August, I was prepared to be a student again, much as the time when I took up photography and used a darkroom to produce black and white prints of what I saw though the lens.  I suppose I thought that all the art I have looked at in my life would make it easier for me to learn to paint watercolors.  And I did not realize how complex the medium of watercolor is.  Here's Winston Churchill recommending the use of oils, by way of comparison to the difficulty of watercolor:

"I write no word in disparagement of water-colours. But there is really nothing like oils. You have a medium at your disposal which offers real power, if you can only find out how to use it.  Moreover, it is easier to get a certain distance along the road by its means than by water-colour.  First of all, you can correct mistakes more easily. One sweep of the palette-knife 'lifts' the blood and tears of a morning from the canvas and enables a fresh start to be made; indeed the canvas is all the better for past impressions.  Secondly, you can approach your problem from any direction.  You need not build downwards awkwardly from white paper to your darkest dark.  You may strike where you please, beginning if you will with a moderate central arrangement of middle tones, and then hurling in the extremes when the psychological moment comes...."

Nine months in, I have to say that I am still a mere rank amateur.  It's not easy to paint with coherence, though I do love mixing shape and color and water on the paper, then watching it dry so much lighter than I intended.  We have a month left in our current class, then this summer I am going to find a drawing class to better ground myself as a painter.  For those who ever thought that the great painters like Van Gogh or Cezanne were mere abstractionists, here are a few of their drawings:
Cezanne, Three Skulls

Cezanne, drawing/watercolor of his beloved Mont Sainte Victoire

Van Gogh Line Drawing example