A Painting A Day. Day 2. This is proving to be an interesting experiment.

Working in watercolor, I am finding, is the best media for an impatient painter who also likes to write. I can put my brush down and let layers dry while I exorcise these wild thoughts that keep flowing. I see that some escape my journal and find their way here.

My lesson today: face your fears. If you had asked me just 3 days ago “Are you afraid of painting?” I would have snorted a definitive “No.” Turns out, when I tune into my physical body during the act of painting, it is contorted with fear. I catch myself holding my breath, crunching up my shoulders and bracing for…? What? What is manifesting as fear in my body? Well, it is watercolor after all. I suppose I am afraid of adding the wrong tone, overworking the paper, messing the lines up. I am afraid of failing my subject (a landscape with real depth and details). Why am I afraid? Who cares? Again, a breath.

Then something even more profound occured to me. One of the lessons I used to teach my art students came to mind as I inhaled deeply. I taught art lessons to students ages 5 to 65 throughout my college career and a few years after. It was always a question of did the student need to focus (usually the kids) or loosen up (mainly the grown ups)? I would have those in need of focus practice drawing one object, for short bursts of time, then moving on to another object. For those who needed to relax, I put random things in brown bags and asked them to draw the objects without looking (texture included). It was a joy to see the results from both groups.

So what a revelation today when I saw myself in the tight group. It was only when I realized this and let myself go that I was able to relax and enjoy the process. And as the light shifted from sunrise to early morning, the nuances of the scene outside softly made their way into my hand. The process is just as important as the product.

Artist Sherri Dobay's watercolor landscape


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