A Perfect Example

Landscape demo
Watercolor, 5 x 7"
25 June 2011


I lead with the one that worked.

At the end of 12 sessions together, I bid my students farewell with a landscape demo on rough India paper. It's always a little stressful to make a demo, performance anxiety and all that, but it's a rush and, once into it, I can't stop till the process allows. Although I do crank out demo duds on occasion, mostly I succeed because (in front of students) I simply have to hold my seat and complete the work.

However... Just before this demo, I broke one of my own cardinal rules. I started a new entry in my Nunjabi book in the middle of class and interrupted myself early to go back to teaching. I was never able to recover my place or pace. Naturally! The rule in this case is to never start a watercolor if you expect to be interrupted (or without taking the phone off the hook.)

Actually, I broke two cardinal rules. The second? Don't overwork your watercolor — from the strokes to the piece at large. I so overworked parts of the one below, that I had a chance to try the new Daniel Smith Watercolor Ground over a horrid sky and stream. I tried, too hard, to recover my place in the painting and, as these things go, each further attempt to fix created a worse scenario. My intention is not to berate myself in public but to demonstrate what happens when we forget or go against our basic principals. Every watercolorist knows exactly what I'm talking about.

So, I'm posting my overworked Nunjabi entry below. Only because it's the next page in my book project. If I hide a not so great one now, I just may lose momentum. Also because, in relation to the demo at top, it's a perfect example of classic watercolor defeat.

To quote Patrice Bart, while harshly coaching the Corps de Ballet of the Paris National Opera Ballet in rehearsal of La Bayadere by Minkus, he says...
"It's not bad, but it won't make them cry."
"Yes," responds one dancer, "but it makes us cry!" as she wipes away tears.
And so it is with watercolor. I tell my students that they must learn to accept that some pieces will work and some won't. Some results will be better than others and some will be disasters. As in watercolor, so in life.

When you feel like giving up, give yourself a pat on the back for effort and do the next right thing. Take action, it's a sure cure.

Me? I'm turning the page to see what happens next.

Storybook Stream
Watercolor, 8 x 9"

Nunjabi Book I

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2 comments:

RH Carpenter said...

Brava, Suzanne! For your braveness (so many bloggers only show their A+ stuff and we never learn from them). Good teaching lesson on good and not-as-good but fixable watercolor landscapes :) I liked your quote, too! A nice way to begin my day.

Suzanne McDermott said...

Glad to be of service. I realized after posting that I broke another cardinal rule. Don't work on your own stuff while teaching. (But I'd just given a lesson on landscape pAinting and couldn't quell the impulse in the quiet time.)