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Pretty is Just Not Enough Any Longer

I took a fabulous workshop with Linda Baker in May. A master of watercolor, her work and style have always caught my attention. She has such a wonderful sense of color...and I am all about color. I was totally excited about taking her classes.

One of the things we were asked to bring was a painting we were having trouble finishing. I had started a painting in January. The photo I worked from was of a blossoming Bradford Pear tree the taken the Spring before. The winter had been SO cold and awful even up to January. (Little was I to know that it was to get much much worse!) So anyway, I figured that painting something blooming from Spring would be a good idea.

I piddled and twiddled with it for 5 months! The same painting! I did virtually nothing else. Well, that is not entirely true. I sorted brushes, re-filled the paint in my palette, cleaned out drawers in my studio, looked at other resource photos, ordered supplies I might or might not get the picture. So to get back to the reason I brought this up, this painting was a problem...a BIG problem. And I did not know why.

This is what it looked like when I brought it in:

Notice that in May it still was not even finished being drawn! The top left and bottom right corners were still just hanging there....empty. Linda was walking around and I reached in my portfolio to get out my drawing for the project and she saw the painting. "Bring it out, let's see it." she said. I told her it was my problem painting. "Problem? Why do you say that? It's beautiful." I explained the timeline and how long I have been looking at it. "So what's wrong?" she asked. And finally I said it -"I'm bored." As soon as the words came out of my mouth I knew that was the issue. Then she said what I was unable to put into words myself. "Pretty is good and it is perfect for the gallery. Somebody will buy it. But pretty is not enough for you anymore. You need 'Wow' . Something that is for shows, to be entered in competitions Something painted with passion." Wow is right. I am so there.

She suggested that I trace the drawing and transfer it to a new sheet of paper and use it for the class. So I ended up doing two paintings during the week. This one used her pouring techniques. Here's a few of the steps working up to the unveiling.

Then I started to take off the masking fluid.

The unveiling. The burst of colors was amazing I couldn't wait to take the masking fluid off to see the colors underneath. Here's the painting done. What a difference!

Later I finished the first one. I could see some of the problems that needed to be fixed from looking at the other version.

It's still "pretty" while the other is a Wow..but at least I will never ever forget the valuable lesson on the difference between pretty and passionate.

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