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Monday, November 28, 2005

Getting it right

Thirty-five years ago--I remember it as thought it were yesterday--I asked my watercolor instructor how to fix a muddy passage in my picture. He replied, "Get it right the first time." Those were the good old days of watercolor when we honored the white paper, used no white or black paint, added no collage, and didn't mix media. We've come a long way, baby. Or have we? I made that same statement today in a class critique, hoping to create awareness of the beauty of a directly painted, fresh section of a painting compared to an overworked passage in the same picture. From the viewpoint of the class they looked the same, but at closer range, there was a world of difference. These days painting is much like everything else--it doesn't matter how you get there, as long as it works. Somehow this doesn't ring true to me. There is nothing like an elegant brushstroke or a masterful color wash--and you know it at once when you see it. I hate to think that these traditional qualities could be completely lost as the watercolor societies become more and more open to acrylics-as-watercolor, watercolor-on-canvas, watercolor-and-collage and other contemporary techniques. It almost seems as though the permissiveness of our society has crept into the discipline of watercolor painting. To me nothing is more impressive than a well designed and masterfully executed watercolor and I'm grateful there are still a few national groups that honor this achievement. Striving to "get it right the first time" should be every watercolor painter's number one goal.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

An elegant brushstroke or a masterful color wash can certainly be done on watercolor canvas.

12:19 PM  

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