Friday, April 10, 2009

Make the Best of an Emergency - Watercolor

The full quote is:
'"...make the best of an emergency," as he called watercolor.'

The quote is by Evan Charteris in 1927, quoted in the book 'The Watercolors of John Singer Sargent' by Carl Little. It is a stunningly accurate description of watercolor, at least as I do it and, it seems, as Sargent did it.

For me watercolor has the immediacy of an emergency. Everything has to be done right, and right now. There are just too many things to be doing all at the same time. Everything seems somewhat urgent. Some people I'm sure spend days on watercolors. But that doesn't seem to have been Sargent's method. Nor mine either. Thus the quote about an emergency. It just hit me over the head as to how truly it reflects my experience with watercolor. I think by the way that Sargent used this phrase approvingly. It added to the challenge.

I went back to work on yesterday's emergency today. But it was difficult. Part of the problem is that I let too much white get away. I scraped to try to regain some of it. I also added some darker more vibrant colors. They may have improved it somewhat but I think some of yesterday's spontaneity is gone. I do think it is done. I discovered that its small size just doesn't lend itself to reworking, at least not for me.

Time to move on to another one, and another emergency.


MadSilence said...

I was gratified to find your painting of a Killdeer. One of the first birds I learned to identify as a youth, their call & "broken wing act" is distinctive. Several Killdeer continue to occupy a field near my workplace, apparently unconcerned with the constant activity around them.

Ken Januski said...

Hi MadSilence,

I'm happy that you liked the Kildeer painting. As I've gotten older I've found that I really value the things that remind me of my youth. I'm happy to say that those things are usually parts of nature, not TV shows or even sports teams, though I was of course exposed to them as well. For some reason it is nature that seems to retain the strongest and most evocative memories.

I think it'b partially because of that that I spend so much time trying to portray nature now. And also why I find it so sad that many children seem to have so little exposure to or appreciation of nature.

That's great that you're able to see kildeer so often. I guess they're just going about their business as we go about ours....