When I tell people I am a watercolorist, they often offer condolences, saying “It’s such a difficult and unforgiving medium!” In a way, it is. But this is like saying that Mount Tamalpais (in California’s Marin County) is annoyingly high! The peak is high, but the hike up offers wonderful gifts along the way, and the views at the summit are so rewarding.
I began to tinker with watercolors about a decade ago, as a way to depict stories that emerged from my imagination through a process called guided imagery. At the time I had no idea of the potential of this medium: it was simply a handy way to color things in. Soon, though, I joined an evening watercolor class as an antidote to the long, gray winters of rural New York (where I was living at the time). The teacher, Carolyn Hutchings Edlund, captivated us from the beginning. Clearly, this was no ordinary paint!
Unlike acrylics or oils or pencil or, well, most other media, which generally are intended to stay where you put them (unless there is a mishap involving food or wine or fire or pets or a natural disaster), watercolor pigments may continue to move and interact as the moist paper dries. The water, too, may wander. You can turn away for a few minutes and come back to discover something new has appeared that you didn’t expect.
One can learn how to control the behavior of pigments and water so there aren't many surprises. On the other hand, relinquishing some control allows this medium to do what few others can: co-create with you!
Watercolors are an invitation to find a balance between controlling and allowing. Seeking that balance, and practicing it, is good training for finding balance in life's journey as well.
|Can you find the heart drawn in chalk on this wall?|