There’s been a little too much going on beyond the world of watercolour of late to be able to dedicate much time or thought to my painting.
Years ago, I used to swim a lot. If a went a day or, heaven forbid, more than a day went by without my pool time, my mood would start to dip. I’d also give myself a hard time for my lack of dedication and discipline, and boy would I miss the endorphin rush of exercise! Many years on, I now have similar feelings about painting. A lot has changed in the intervening years, and I’ve learnt to accept – if only a little bit – that I can’t just do what I want to do for as long as I want to do it exactly whenever I want to do it. This means that my painting now comes quite far down a list of other, often non-negotiable things.
Anytime that I can paint is now incredibly precious to me. This makes it all the more frustrating that when I do have some time, that I’m not fully prepared to make the best possible use of it. This again is usually because I haven’t had time to really plan, consider and ideally sketch out what I’m going to paint next. This was exactly the set of circumstances that I found myself in recently. I had a very small window of opportunity to paint but, despite having a quarter sheet and a half sheet all stretched up and ready to paint on – I just didn’t quite know what to paint. I was anxious that I needed to paint something – but also annoyed that I didn’t know what to paint!
I decided that rather than ‘waste’ one of my stretched sheets, I’d just paint something, anything! I found an old block of Daler-Rowney Langton rough watercolour paper, thinking that this would help alleviate any pressure! I found an image of a landscape that I felt a little half-hearted about but thought I could at least sketch it out quickly so that I could get painting. If you’re thinking that none of this sounds entirely promising – I quite agree, especially when you add to the mix a large dollop of general annoyance! This was exacerbated as soon as I started painting. The watercolour block hasn’t aged well – (I promise you I’m never buying another ‘bargain’ vintage bit of watercolour paper on eBay again!) The paper didn’t absorb the paint evenly. Instead, the paint just looked all ‘blotchy’! So, I was now painting while supremely annoyed, and hurriedly! I didn’t have time to start something new so just carried on as best I could with a simmering discontent!
Here’s how it looked when my time ran out:
This worked out better than I thought it was going to, which is possibly an indication of just how low my expectations were! I’ve enjoyed the process of painting much more on paintings that have been far less successful than this one – but that hardly feels like the point! The whole point of painting for me is that I enjoy it. Of course, I accept that I’m going to be frustrated at times, but I still usually enjoy myself nevertheless. Not this time, however!
I’m hoping that in the weeks ahead, I’ll be able to dedicate a little more time to painting but, with the clocks going back recently and shorter days ahead – I can already tell that I’m going to find it a challenge, especially as I’m still somewhat lacking in inspiration! I’ve been trying to think of ways to alleviate this. One idea is that I might revisit some of my favourite paintings of the past year or two and, instead of referring back to the source images that inspired them – just to use my painting as the basis for new work. I quite like the idea of what they may turn out like when they’re another step removed, and also now that I have even more brushstrokes under my belt than when I first tried them.
Naturally, I know that I’m not alone with these feelings and frustrations so I’d welcome any thoughts or suggestions that others may have – especially ones that people feel have worked for them, maybe doing more sketchbook work, setting a goal, creating a project with a theme etc. In the meantime, I’m going to start planning out my next painting so that I’m better prepared to grasp the opportunity to paint as soon as it arises.