Finding Water

A Rainy Morning in the Studio

A Dark, Rainy Morning in the Studio

Over the years, I have learned that there is a flow of ideas that we as artists can tap into.  The flow of creativity is a constant.  We are the ones who are fickle or fearful.

Julia Cameron, Finding Water

I never know when I sit down, just what I am going to write.  I make no plan; it just comes, and I don’t know where it comes from.

D. H. Lawrence

I guess I use this “Finding Water” title for today’s blog with tongue-in-cheek.   Julia Cameron uses the phrase “finding water” to describe an artist in search of the next idea for expression.  Actually, that phrase does not apply to me this morning, literally or figuratively.  Outside it rains and is dark and delicious.  Inside, I have already”found water” for my next series of paintings.  Though I couldn’t sleep till nearly 4:00 a.m., I found myself rising this morning around 8:00, embracing the dimness of the rainy light filtering through my studio windows, and filling my own interior with steaming cups of coffee, the music of Leonard Cohen, and some new watercolor studies with Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth as my mentors.  I recall that Woody Allen said in an interview that he was never out of ideas for a movie, never blocked.  He always has the next movie or two already in his brain when he is wrapping up his current project.  I believe he has averaged a couple of movies per year for decades now, or at least one a year.  I too have trouble sympathizing with the notion of “blocked artist.”  I know how it is to feel depressed emotionally and to perceive my own attempts as inadequate, but I am never at a dearth for ideas for painting.

Having finished a large watercolor, I am now trying to unscramble a host of images that have been fighting for my attention for weeks now.  Yesterday afternoon, I rolled the dice and sat in a Starbuck’s,  making tonal sketches of Edward Hopper’s watercolor Marshall’s House from 1932.  This morning I decided to give it a try, learn a few things about Hopper’s use of color combinations, and attempt my own finishing details (Hopper, unlike Wyeth, has a paucity of detail in his watercolors and oils).

The moment I began sketching this out on the 300-lb. watercolor paper, I delighted in the scratch of the sharpened pencil across the rough paper surface.

To me, pencil drawing is a very emotional, very quick, very abrupt medium. . . . You must not be afraid of it, though.  Pencil is sort of like fencing or shooting.  You make a thrust at your opponent yet you must be ready to recover into the on-guard position, and when you thrust you must not think that you will miss the mark.  Your opponent may parry, so when you thrust you’ve got to put your heart and soul into it and then, in a split second, withdraw.  This is very much to me like pencil drawing.  You’ve got to dart with a sharp point and hit it.  Either you hit it or miss it, but you must have no hesitation.  

I love the preliminary drawing stage of a watercolor.  But I also love drawing right into the pigment itself, wet or dry.  And now I have enough paint on the surface that I can take up the pencil and add layers of drawing over the planes of color.  This is exciting to me, always.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not really alone.


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3 Responses to “Finding Water”

  1. Playamart - Zeebra Designs Says:

    yes, the problem is sometimes what not to draw/paint, as there are inspiring painting ops everywhere!
    pencil is very relaxing for me, but water media demands a more attentive posture — i am often very tired after working on a painting session.


  2. L’Artiste who painted herself – Literanista Says:

    […] Finding Water […]


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