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Learning to paint watercolor

Originally posted on Mai, 3, 2007

"Winter Tree", watercolor, 19cm x 25cm,<br /> 100%cotton paper, 2005

The first rule of watercolor is that there are no rules. This may not be helpful but that is the way it is. It is part of what makes watercolour difficult. On the positive side, it is also what makes watercolour so much fun. (There are many people who once they begin painting in watercolour forsake all the other mediums.)

I hesitate to give specific instructions on technique. There are plenty of books written on this. It would be good to study everything you can get your hands on. It is only through much trial and error that you can determine the things you need to master. You need to prepare yourself for the fact that this could take a great deal of time. How long? The answer depends upon how involved you want to get. Keep it simple. Buy good materials and keep it simple. You do not need a large palette. A warm and cold version of the primary colors is sufficient. A green such as viridian, and a cadmium orange could prove useful. It is necessary to study the characteristics of pigments. It is only through doing this that you will begin to understand what fits your needs.

Some, if not most people, will think this advice not direct enough, or practical for the task at hand of learning to paint watercolors. This is dependant on the result you want. If you want to, in the shortest possible period of time, learn to do a “pretty” picture follow one of the formulas from “the paint by the numbers” school. I’m being a bit harsh. Please forgive me. I put it this way because I’m sick to death with mediocrity. If you are going to do something we owe it to ourselves to do it well! It is essential that we enjoy the process of learning. Painting our first painting is not that important.

Let me say that I have much respect for anyone engaged in the creative process.

Bon courage,
Published in french as Apprendre à peindre à l’aquarelle


Can Art be taught?

Originally posted on April, 26, 2007

In the old atelier systems years where spent simply learning technique: genius, the problem of becoming an artist, was not addressed. Conventional opinion was that art could not be taught. It wasn’t until very recent times that this began to change. Today, it is not really clear how to go about teaching art.

Is it best to stick to the art cannot be taught doctrine? Do the questions of design and composition become important? Do we attempt to help the student find their personal style? The questions go on and on.

However we may feel about it, evolution is leading to more and more importance being placed on individuality. Having a healthy sense of self is vital for the artist. But the insecurity that usually goes along with being an individualist can be great. Finding the balance is often difficult.

The question of how art should be taught is an important one. If we are going to teach art it needs to be taught well. A big responsibility. I am going to toast this drink to all the good art teachers.


Published in french as Peut-on enseigner l’art ?


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