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.
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 UK 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 9″ x 12″ 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!