Recently I’ve found on YouTube a video I hadn’t expected. It turned out to be abstract by watercolor videos by Millie Gift Smith. Now you’re probably saying…..big deal! But before I realized she was using watercolor, I thought she was starting with a few strokes of w/c to get a few lights into her work, and adding acrylic…paint, and ink later. After watching several of her demos, I realized that primarily everything is on 140# Arches Watercolor paper.
Since I painted with watercolor for years, and all my early lessons were from w/c teachers, I was fascinated at Millie’s abstract style with only paper and w/c. I’ve struggled for years to loosen up, and let everything go. Watercolors to me became to slow, to dry, to perfect, and too much care had to be taken not to blend the wrong colors. All my teachers were Purists, and so that’s what I learned to do. I wouldn’t dare cross over the purest line! Those early teachings are what I struggle to overcome today each time I pick up a brush!
Since I’m pretty much a nonconformist, I could only take “the rules of WaterColor for so long!” Longer than even I could imagine, but I kept hanging in there, trying to find new ways of speeding up the drying time on a painting that was too large to put into the clothes dryer on a shelf. Eventually I got to the point where experimentation brought me to acrylics and oils, but mostly acrylics. I love to push the boundaries, try new ideas, use untraditional items in my creativity process.
I bring Millie’s Series II to you because all the time I was watching, my mind kept going to Acrylic Inks. They are transparent, dry faster than w/c and since fun is the name of the game, that’s my next thing to work on and try. Actually since I have boxes of w/c paints, I sometimes mix the pure pigment with a medium to use them up. That works also!
I hope you too will find some interesting new things to try by watching Millie, and maybe your muse will visit with even more ways to twist and turn your creative energy. Good luck, and let me know how this artist has pushed you into creating something new and fresh. Something maybe you hadn’t thought of, or haven’t had the courage to try. Just remember….it’s all good…the worst that can happen, is you Gesso over all of it and start fresh.
I have never believed in mistakes, and have always thought them instead to be learning experiences. I also don’t believe in throwing away what I consider my bad art! To an artist, we all question our own work, that’s healthy, and another opportunity to learn more. Having a few people in a group to critique one another is also a huge advantage. Sometimes the most obvious fixes to one of my pieces is someone on our critique group who is an artist who works in a different medium. She had a really good eye for color, and balance even though she doesn’t paint.
What one would call a mistake, I would consider an opportunity to be more creative!
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