August 30, 2017. Watercolor and ink. I have been trying different variations of this image over a week, since recently seeing a roseate spoonbill bird. I’m grateful to a friend who gave me the advice that if one of her paintings isn’t working, she takes that as freedom to really have at it, to feel there’s nothing to lose in trying new things on top of the old brushstrokes.
Watercolor has always inspired me to caution more than drama, but since first hearing that advice, I’ve noticed that this is what many other artists further along in their development than me do — if a painting isn’t working, they paint on top of it, scrape layers off, pull up layers of paint until they get to the white of the paper. I have even heard one artist say that this, the layers and layers, the complexity, is what makes the painting valuable. It shows the work. I’m not sure that’s always the case; surely some of the most beautiful paintings include the simplest and mostly lightly touched.
But I’m trying to gently nudge myself towards being comfortable messing it up a bit (or more than a bit!), resisting neatness and precision to see what can emerge with less restraint. I’m calling this painting finished, but that process of loosening up is for sure an ongoing challenge.