Plein Air Watercolor Traps

“Coastal Litter”
Watercolor 15 x 22 inches
As you know, by now, rocks and cliffs along the ocean front here in Central California is an obsession for me.   I can’t seem to shake it.   And there are a few other habits I can’t seem to shake. . . .
One is copying what is right in front of me out there on the painting scene.   Not that what is in front is bad.   Not at all.  Because the beauty of those places is beyond description!   Garrapatta State Park is one of those places where a painter could stand in one spot for a very long time . . .maybe a year . . . . turn 360 degrees . . . .a few degrees at a time  . . . .and there are literally dozens of paintings looking straight out through every point on the compass!!   Weather changes, light changes, view changes, wind changes, temperature changes, surf changes, and more!  It is enough to boggle even the most experienced painter’s mind.
The Traps, you ask?   Those damned views !!!   I call them traps because there is little effort needed to reach into one’s creativity pouch to pull something especially unique out and put it on paper or canvas.  Falling for what is obviously in front of one is a trap where deep thinking is put aside in order to record what is seen.   (Yes, there is a school of thought out there that considers “accurate recording” “good art.”)   I don’t happen to feel that way.
More than a record, I have awakened to needing something more emotional . . . .more unique.   I don’t take the word “Unique” lightly.   When a painting is sincerely unique, it is the only image like it in the entire world.   It is a one of a kind, never to be repeated spiritual statement of the artist’s vision and feelings.  And, frankly, that takes careful thought and preparation . . . not just a five minute thumbnail sketch.
Another trap is to make a painting that fits into a ‘category’ of paintings well . . . . . as in “Landcape Impressionism.”   To make a painting look like a million other artists could have painted it (and maybe have!!).    Obviously, there are better quality or better versions of said same . . . .But!! . . . most of them are not “unique.”   There was a time when that uniqueness stood out . . . like when Monet was bringing Impressionism to the public.   Each of those artists had a personal vision!   It was different!
The other trap is to remain comfortable with what we are doing.   Yep!   Staying in the same mode, painting the same things, never taking a risk is just like signing a contract for one’s artistic demise!   In fact, I believe that is precisely what happens when a painter settles for what is in front of him (or her).   And, I must confess that is exactly where I have been for the last two or three years!
Yep!   There it is.   I have confessed.
So, let this be an introduction to my next phase of making stale paintings.   You may not think they are stale . . .and that is fine.   But the time has come for me to get out of my lethargy and do something special . . . to grow . . . .to change my thinking . . . .to reach farther . . .
Want to come along?   I want to begin a group of artists who will be accountable to each other and to reach beyond the mundane same ole stuff.   Come on!   Step up.  Join me.   Drop me a note at mebaileyart@comcast.net if you’d like to be accountable for new growth.

7 thoughts on “Plein Air Watercolor Traps”

  1. Wow, I am hearing many of my recent thoughts. The major difference being I have so few picturesque views here in the mid-west that I hunt and struggle not to paint pat answers. The norm is fields with barns. But I also agree it’s about the personal vision/interpretation not the source that is unique.

  2. Hi Mike, Count me in! I found your discussion about recording vice interpreting interesting. I tend to lean toward the expressive side.

    Excellent post; I was scrolling down and saw a bunch of other interesting articles I need to re-read!

  3. Hello I'am Chris !
    I suggest you to publicize your blog by registering on the "directory international blogspot"
    The "directory" is 19 million visits, 193 Country in the World! and more than 18,000 blogs. Come join us, registration is free, we only ask that you follow our blog
    You Have A Wonderful Blog Which I Consider To Be Registered In International Blog Dictionary. You Will Represent Your Country
    Please Visit The Following Link And Comment Your Blog Name
    Blog Url
    Location Of Your Country Operating In Comment Session Which Will Be Added In Your Country List
    On the right side, in the "green list", you will find all the countries and if you click them, you will find the names of blogs from that Country.
    Imperative to follow our blog to validate your registration.Thank you for your understanding
    http://world-directory-sweetmelody.blogspot.fr/
    Happy Blogging
    ****************
    Thank you for following my blog – it is greatly appreciated! :o)
    i followed your blog, please follow back
    ++++++++++++++++
    Get a special price for your blog! with compliments
    Best Regards
    Chris
    http://nsm08.casimages.com/img/2015/04/13//15041305072418874513168280.png

  4. I'm with you! Pushing myself to be brave and try new things. Risking (dare I say seeking?!) failure in order to grow. Onwards!
    Tyra G.

Join in and comment!