Practice…Practice…Practice

Posey Gaines

Artists are in many ways just like athletes. We put in long hours practicing and then we practice some more. Or, to put it another way, we have to warm-up before we engage in our art. I’ve discovered, which of course is not news, is that I have to warm-up before I engage myself in the art of watercolor painting.

What do I mean? This painting was done in about 15 minutes…it was my warm-up exercise. When I practice like this I’m getting my mind and body ready…for instance, a field goal kicker does what before trotting unto to the field to attempt a field goal? He’s on the sidelines kicking into a net…over and over again…he’s getting his mind and body ready to kick a field goal. For me, the 15 – 20 minute paintings I do are me on the sidelines kicking into a net.

We also are taught in watercolor to let the watercolor do it’s own thing…as if, there is something magical that watercolor does when we apply a stroke to a piece of paper. Actually, there’s nothing magical about it all. What we are doing in our practice is observing what happens when we work wet into wet or use a dry brush technique. Just like the field goal kicker…we are observing…we are paying attention to what is happening right in front of us as we apply brush to the paper. The magic happens because we practice, we observe and pay attention to what is happening. Wishing we could do better or paint better or work wet into wet doesn’t amount to a hill of beans…as they say, “Practice makes perfect.”

We may not paint the master-piece in our heads…however, we are definitely inching our way towards what makes the master-piece appear before us on the blank sheet of paper staring back at us.

There’s one more reason we benefit from practicing/warming up. It’s kind of like watching basketball players warm up before a game…why do you see? They are at times laughing, smiling or to coin a phrase “Letting it rip.” It may seem like this shouldn’t help…and yet, it does. Why? Because the mind and body are getting engaged for what is to come…playing basketball.

One closing thought…my warm up paintings have no direction or pre-conceived outcome. I simply start throwing paint on the paper…I’m observing what is happening…I’m being pulled to turn loose of too much control and to just “let her rip.” I probably learn more from these warm-up paintings than anything else because I’m paying attention and observing what is happening as it happens. But the main thing I gain is that I learn that for my style of painting…less is more…kind of like a golfer where the golfer with the fewest strokes usually wins.

What are going to do? PRACTICE…PRACTICE…and then PRACTICE some more.

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