A few weeks ago, our friend Paul, a former professor of Eric’s, came to stay with us. He was so very kind to treat us to the current exhibition at the Tate Britain (their permanent collection is free, but this special exhibition charged admission), simply titled Watercolour.The show examines the history of the medium and its vast, and often surprising, uses and applications. A key aspect of the show was how versatile and accessible the medium is so anyone can try it, and the exhibition was quite inspirational in this regard. Still, I was slightly surprised when Eric said, walking out of the show, that he would maybe sometime like to try painting with watercolors himself. My husband is extraordinarily creative, which makes him a phenomenal teacher, writer and researcher, and he does brilliant things with our house and garden and is learning woodworking, but I have never seen him show any interest in traditional art media.
As an art educator, my wheels started turning and I couldn’t wait for an opportunity to put a brush in his hands and say “go!”
So last week, when Eric came home from the hospital, still a little under the weather, and his parents were still here taking good care of us all, I saw my opportunity. I went out for groceries and just happened to pass the art supply store (where all the watercolor supplies are on special offer because of the Tate exhibition!) and picked up some watercolor postcards and a set of brushes (already had paint from making the hearts decorations for Eric’s party). After dinner, I announced that I would really love for everyone to try to make a painting.
Lanny and Carolyn (Eric’s folks) looked frightened and repeatedly claimed they would be terrible at it, and I think they truly believed this. Again, the educator in me just couldn’t wait to see what they might come up with so I offered profuse amounts of encouragement and assurance that there was no wrong way to paint, especially with watercolor (I wish I could have taken them to the show at the Tate too!). I demonstrated a couple little things like washing the paper with water to get the color to spread out, but basically just let them go to it.
So they were very brave, I think, and the results were absolutely stunning and I think everyone enjoyed it. I love the pictures of all the hands working, and here are some of the finished products (though my poor photography skills and bad lighting hardly do them justice), with titles and explanations from the artists themselves:
I adore this first painting by Lanny–he has a tremor in his right hand I think it only added a special quality to his technique with the brushes. Let me show you a close-up of the smoke coming out of that chimney, I could look at just that for hours (and don’t you love that title?):
Lanny explained that the concept behind this painting is that at creation, God spoke into the darkness so the bottom right corner represents the speaking then the radiating colors are the creation spreading out and pushing the darkness, that dark space in the top left corner, away. Brilliant. I was impressed that both he and Carolyn experimented with different brushes and techniques and color combinations, you can see clearly how both of them created two completely different works.
We have discovered that Everett loves the swings at Holland Park, and as soon as Eric had paper in hand he started to work on this–evidently he’d been thinking about it for awhile!
I did do one too, but I feel like I do enough tooting of my own horn on this blog and I wanted to showcase everyone else’s work. Perhaps I’ll include it in another post sometime soon.
I chose the postcard paper b/c it was inexpensive, a manageable size, and thought I could sell the concept to Grandma and Grandaddy easier if I suggested they send the postcards to some other grandchildren when finished. But I think I’m keeping them all for myself, they’re just too amazing and precious.