“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” ~Henry Ward Beecher
This is a lovely poetic answer to a very practical question: what is my style as an artist? Have I found it yet? What is it that comes naturally when I start to draw? What seems to be more of an effort? What seems more contrived to me?
I am not sure that I am even accurately describing what I do, or what “real” artists do. So of course, I use my art to explain this struggle that I am having mostly with my watercolours.
I wanted to loosen up in the previous post (July 14) in which I shared a sketch of orchids but I find that the exercise in my sketchbook reminds me of a coloured-in approach. To my way of thinking, this is a very controlled watercolour. The contour lines were added after the painting was done because the flowers needed definition. It seemed to me that flowers lacked pizzazz, and I have seen many artists use this outlining method in their sketches. Some use the outlines before they add the colour while other artists add them afterwards.
So then of course, when I showed it to hubby and a good friend of mine, both wondered if this precise, coloured-in approach, (for lack of artistic jargon to describe it), was truly my own style. Am I fighting something that is occurring naturally? Kind of an AH HA moment as Oprah would say? And to this I answer that I am happiest when I can splash the watercolour around in a more whimsical manner. Maybe I want to do both…. maybe I want to be loose and free in some instances and more controlled in others?
A month or so ago, my poppies were starting to fade away so before I lost all flowers entirely, I drew the poppy below as it was in bud, in flower, and then with the petals half blown away by the wind, and then just the remaining seed pod (at the very bottom). This is perhaps a little closer to the effect I would like to achieve with my watercolours.
The geranium was a very quick sketch done at a restaurant and painted at home later on. It is the first time that I have sketched publicly although I did hide what I was doing and I felt like I was speed sketching. I am happy with this sketch even though it is cut off at the bottom and I haven’t added a background colour. It was just meant to be a quick study of a potted plant.
This rose wreath was an assignment in an online course I am following with Junelle Jacobsen (yesandamen.typepad.com). She drew tomatoes in her wreath but I thought of drawing mom’s roses. This is much more the way I would like to paint with my watercolours. I had fun with this homework and right now, that’s the whole point for me. Too often, I forget to be playful with art. In my humble opinion, Junelle’s technique is very forgiving and allows for more experimentation. I love all the squiggles and swirls that are added with a black or white pen at the end to finish the painting.
Junelle says in her blog lesson, ” As we work hard in our daily practicing and creating, we can be tough on our art. We can get critical of our efforts. It is good to be reminded to be kind to ourselves. We take such good care of others, we need to do the same for our own hearts.” Her words remind me of the therapeutic value of art and that if squiggles and swirls make me feel good, then I think they will find their way into more of my art! The fruit sketches at the top of the post were also assignments completed for Junelle’s class.
Have I dipped my brush in my own soul? Have I painted my own nature?
I feel I am getting closer to that concept when I am more free with my paint brush, when I start with a footloose, devil may care attitude. This does not occur naturally in my case. I will have to continue working on loosening up…
What is my style? Who knows! With time and many more sessions with my watercolours (and new art supplies of course!), I will eventually develop my own particular style.