Saturday, May 12, 2012

wielding a brush instead of a sword

Today I went to a watercolor workshop instead of kendo practice.

I discovered the workshop through a Facebook post by my bookseller friend last March. I wanted to join it then but my schedules were unpredictable. Then to my delight, another set of workshops were offered in April and I had signed up immediately. But at the last minute I had to back out because of work schedules. I thought that was it. No painting for me.

Then the workshop instructor, Valerie Chua, emailed me to let me know that there will be one last session this month. Well, that was it, it was then or never! And it must be really meant because third time's the charm, so they say. I also remembered that inspiring line that says, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear."
I have to admit I was actually nervous and apprehensive on my way to class. I never had any form of training on any art. I was relying purely on my genetic skills and hoping fervently that my grandfather's artistic blood would weave magic through my hand.

The workshop was simple and straightforward and that's what made it so effective and useful for me. At the same time there was warmth and good camaraderie in the studio, even though according to Valerie we were a pretty quiet class -- a roomful of introverts most likely, as we all spoke in soft hushed voices and giggled to ourselves at the perceived disasters on our paper.

It took four hours but no time was wasted. I especially loved watching my own attempts at still life progress from a sketch to something that at least looks a bit like what it's supposed to be.

I enjoyed mixing colors and trying to capture the same shade as the image source.
I finally understand how those shadowy colors (called undertones) are made.
It's hard not to be messy at some point.
Finished work, with a few very instructive finishing touches from the teacher.
It was said that only practice, lots of it, will really help us get better and improve. I guess it is also the best way for us to learn tricks for ourselves and to develop our own styles. Valerie said that it has been mentioned somewhere that you need 10,000 hours of practice if you really want to be good at something. She advised us to paint every day. Pretty much like what Julia Cameron says in her books about writing everyday. Practice is the key. And I would add something else to that, practice fueled by passion. That is the best combination I believe.

I came out of that workshop feeling happy and optimistic. It was a different kind of high, and a different kind of victory. As I took this creative step the path before me has become brighter with possibilities and promise. I certainly want to explore more...

1 comment:

  1. I cannot believe this was your first time doing this. I'm really impressed by the highlights on the right apple. I remember one time that my high school art teacher made me paint a white egg on a white sheet of paper without using white paint... it's probably the piece of art that I'm most proud of in my life - and I haven't done anything like it since...