For 30 years I have been collecting top notch watercolor instruction books. During the first many years I diligently used them as textbooks, following the lessons, and with quite satisfactory results. That habit had fallen away with time, but is now resurrected with my latest mentor: Alwyn Crawshaw. I decided to start with his autobiography (photo above) and go from there.
Crawshaw: All joy, no brag
Right off the bat Crawshaw explains his motivation for writing such a strange thing as an artist’s autobiography. It is just this: To answer the most common question he gets at his instructional workshops: “How did you ever get to be so good at this?” (with the implied “You must just be naturally artistic.”) He answers the question beautifully and convincingly. The short verson: years and years of practice.
In his autobiography he sets about a step-by-step review of life choices, jobs, travels, victories, and failures that he experienced throughout his long career as a commercial artist and then a fine artist. I underlined a lot in the book, then decided to take notes right in my sketchbook because it is a well-known fact that handwritten notes are easier to remember than ones that are simply highlighted. Here is one of many gems, about painting and life:
An enjoyable read for anyone really.
When that book was completed I was convinced that studying his basic textbook with a ‘beginner mind’ could do wonders to fill in any gaps in my comfort level and skill.
What a treat to be learning from a brilliant British watercolourist from the comfort of my own cozy living room. I began at the beginning, pacing myself as a newcomer, and have had a wonderful time so far. I am using a 8.5″ x 11″ bound watercolor sketchbook*, which was very intimidating at the start (it looks like a published book on the outside, for God’s sake!) As I type these final few sentences, the tea is brewing, the paint palette has been misted to start softening the paint, and I will be back to nirvana moments from now. Here are my sample lesson pages….
So this is what I have been doing with my time: creating homework paintings rather than blog writings. It’s all good.
Follow your bliss, or in my case, blisses!
*(In case you’re interested, Strathmore Watercolor Art Journal )