Early Saturday Morning, Exploring a Large Watercolor

Early Saturday Morning, Working on the Watercolor

Early Saturday Morning, Working on the Watercolor

Education, I fear, is learning to see one thing by going blind to another.

Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

The statement above by Aldo Leopold could be taken in a number of ways.  Having completed a week of Inservice before beginning the new year at my high school, I heard a number of pontificators telling the audience what was wrong with public education and how to take steps to remedy it.  As in former years, we were covered with enough statistics to make our heads swim, along with bullet lists of guidelines designed to correct the shortcomings perceived from the statistics.  From my perspective, every year a new educational flavor is passed down from officials on state and district levels, accompanied with new books, written by the latest education gurus.

My reason for posting the Leopold quote is this: education is a lifestyle, not an institution, and learning is always more comprehensive than the lesson plans and statistics that are printed up and passed out each year.  I awoke at 7:50 this Saturday morning, because my mind was overflowing with ideas spawned from what I ingested the past week, from art history, philosophy, literature, religion and music. My reading, as always, has been diverse, as I have pored over poetry, essays, private journals, fiction novels, short stories, histories and biographies.  I have also been soaking myself in watercolor theories found in books, DVDs, Youtube and my own experiments in the studio.  This past week, for me has been a stimulating education, and virtually none of it rose from my Inservice meetings.  None of the issues that  excite me right now were revealed by a speech, lecture, a stack of handouts or curriculum guides.  I love learning, I am starving to know more, I am obsessed with exploration, and unfortunately, I feel that I have to work overtime to safeguard that enthusiasm, while the machinery of public education continually finds ways to squelch it.  If it were not for the affirming, supportive administration and faculty within my own building, I would probably have walked away from this profession long ago.  Right now, I am as excited as I have ever been to meet my new students on Monday, and that excitement took root Thursday and Friday, when finally I was allowed time and space for privacy in my classroom, to set up my environment, read, reflect, and write up my strategic plans for the opening week of classes.

Rising early this morning, I entered my studio when the northen lights were clean and refreshing, and spent a long while poring over this watercolor before deciding what to do next.  I found myself in a “detail” mood, so I finished the Sinclair sign, painted the slogan under the roof and added the “Dino”, shaded the red post of the lamp, then went to work on the details under the awning, where shadows play among the I-beams and framework.  I also re-worked the reflections on the windows of the station.  Lettering is still my Achilles’ tendon, particularly Gothic lettering.  I didn’t fret much over the white Gothic “Sinclair” letters, knowing that a good flat brush would allow me to paint around the letters, leaving the white paper to stand alone.  But the red “Go with the Dino” lettering had me worried.  Since it was in deep shadow, I mixed Winsor Green with the Alizarin Crimson, hoping it would pass for “shadow red.”  I first outlined all the letters, continually sharpening a Tuscan Red Prismacolor Pencil.  Then I wet the insides ofthe letters and floated the Alizarin Crimson mixed with Winsor Green, letting the colors run to the waxy edge of the Prismacolor outline.  Maybe one day I’ll solve my lettering anxieties.  I certainly haven’t yet paid my 10,000 hours’ dues in that discipline.

Thanks for reading.   I hope to return to this painting tomorrow.  As for the meantime, Advanced Placement Art History is demanding my attention for Monday’s classes.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

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2 Responses to “Early Saturday Morning, Exploring a Large Watercolor”

  1. Xraypics Says:

    Thanks for the technique tips. I haven;t watercoloured for ages, being deeply engrossed by the digital stuff just now. But you never disappoint. Cheers, Tony


    • davidtripp Says:

      You’re the best. I worry about sounding pedantic, but don’t mean to. I have nothing to hide when I explore how to render things, and this was a first for me. The jury is still out as to whether it’s a good technique, but so far I’m satisfied with the result.


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