Upon this rock...

In last week's post I said that I would speak about my thoughts on how and why I've progressed through 4 different mediums during  my art career. Each stage was a deliberate not arbitrary change. My path changed because there came a pivotal moment when I chose to follow a different direction. 

Today we will begin with my work in Watercolor.



I was surprised, while looking back through my photos of my earlier work that I found very few examples of purely watercolor paintings. Those that I did find were quite revealing!  I think that my first attempts definitely pointed out the simple fact that this was not to be my forever medium. Yes, they all sold, and yes, they were of professional quality but I could see that I was using it as a way to explore my skills.
Let's be clear... watercolor is not for the faint hearted! 

It will quickly inform you of your strengths and weaknesses in your studies. It will frustrate you into acknowledging that your need to understand value is paramount. Temerity of color will be a badge of courage. It will command that your composition be spot on from the moment you touch your brush to paper. "One stroke and done" is an awesome power that you yield with your brush! You'll hold your breath as you see color blossom into serendipitous forms or puddle into  muddied and puckered papers. Watercolorist in their purest pursuit are magicians and at their worst ...well let's just say they are hard to live with!
 I did gain a certain degree of skill over a number of years but I knew that I would never be a purist when I stumbled over the most humbling of forms ...a rock.
I remember the moment that I stepped off that precipice of painting.  I wanted to feel that rock in my painting. I wanted to see it grow up out of the ground with such solidity that I could stand on it. I wanted to shift it's location and add to it's shape.No matter how I painted it, the values I worked, the shape I drew it just did not translate from my mind's eye to the paper. In frustration I tore up painting after painting. Throwing down bits of color on to surfaces of previously painted papers. Slowly, ever so slowly, I puzzled out these beautiful torn papers of color, my colors... a rock emerged. Sculpted of torn paper, colors from my palette in lands and seascapes  from my imagination  held by rice papers, papyrus and adhered with archival gels. My work shifted, painting in watercolors and combined with these papers,  I felt my creativity open again to the joy of creating.
 One moment I was on solid ground, with an identity as a watercolorist then everything shifted.What was I to do? I had worked at creating a following, collectors and my work was recognized! Do I start over? Could I build on what I had and find a new path? Would my collectors abandon me or grow with me?

Two years later... I presented my new work, my new  identity as a mixed media/collage artist  and I had my answer...but that's a story for next week.!

helenharripaintings.com

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