These past two weeks plus a few days has been a relatively quiet time for me - unless you count Facebook and the news. I've spent a great deal of time resting, as might be expected, some time in therapy as prescribed, but a nice amount of time perusing through some watercolor books that I purchased used prior to the surgery - so I'd have some inspiration to return to watercolor ASAP!
I bought three of the SPLASH series of watercolor books and went through each one taking down notes that I want to instill in my subconscious as well as consciousness. One thing that kept being stressed in many different ways is the act of disciplining oneself to DO ART. I used to be fairly disciplined - especially prior to semi-annual exhibits in which I participated for 15 or so years in upstate Pennsylvania.
When we moved to New Jersey, back in 1990, I was immediately faced with the fact that my watercolors were primarily country themed, appropriate to upstate PA. Not so appropriate to the NJ suburbs between NYC and Philly! Seascapes were popular there, of course, as well as many different styles of modern art. So I chose to go modern in a different media - fiber art. Thus the next 15+ years were spent working with fiber art creating wall pieces for home, office, business. Mind you, fiber art really does not sell all that well yet it takes much more time, effort, equipment, and fabric/yarn/threads/batting/backing and so much more to create.
So when it came time to retire, we both leaned towards returning to Pennsylvania to a quieter life-style, country living, less stressful driving, plus the benefit of being near one of our children as we age. We now live in central PA near Penn State University so we have the best of two worlds - country living but wonderful educational and arts events that match well enough to city living for our tastes.
With my shoulder deteriorating rapidly, it was also a time when I had to give up drawing with the sewing machine on fabric - a beloved pass time and an integral part of my fiber art creations. If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know that I've also been doing bird portraits in acrylics on canvas - a fun thing for a niche market, to be sure. But my love of the transparent watercolor media remains part of my essence. I've only dabbled in it during the past 2-3 years or so, instead focusing primarily on the bird portraits, since they are popular in this area.
It remains to be seen where I will go with all of this - suffice it to say that I want to work in watercolor but my fears get in the way. I've been disappointed with my efforts so far, partly because I know how well I USED to paint and I also know what I'd LIKE to paint. And my recent efforts do not match either of those expectations.
So it is that self-discipline must be my driving force if I truly want to paint in watercolor. Yes, the new paints, brushes, papers, and techniques now used in watercolor are quite different from what I'm accustomed to. But that is also exciting with all the new possibilities. I certainly do NOT want to paint the same old way I did back in the 1980's. They were nice enough - realistic and precise, but totally lacking much in the way of my feeling for the subject matter. They were fairly accurate representations of what I was seeing, but they did not reflect anything profound about of my love of nature, animals, birds, etc. Anyone can paint pretty pictures if they practice long enough. I want to paint beautiful images that combine what I see with my spirit's connection to what I am painting. I have done a few pieces - mostly back in the 1980's - that were moving in this direction. I have a sense of where I will be going when I begin painting again more seriously.
Meanwhile, I'm reading other watercolor books, filling my mind with something other than politics - something to nurture my soul, my art, my personal life. We all need to nurture ourselves to move forward in our own lives, particularly now in a time of challenges, division, and even crisis. Some of us will opening resist. Others will balance out the movers and doers with the arts and contemplative spirituality. And some of us will do both.
Off to more reading, thinking, writing, planning, and so much more...