Friday, October 30, 2020

The Art of Watercolor

 I had been learning how to paint with watercolor!  Since I was joined by my friend Lito Ballaran, a respected watercolorist, to the then International Watercolor Society of the Philippines (IWSP), I had been seriously trying to learn the art of watercolor.   My biggest difficulty in learning the craft is my   penchant for oil which I believe, I had developed my own style I call “Transparent Cubism” but even that, I think is being lost as I paint.  Nevertheless, a teacher once told us that if one has to paint with any medium, one has to use the said medium to its full potential – that one should show the characteristics of the medium. Basically, watercolor being transparent and the others, opaque.

 I have seen several demonstrations in the workshops of IWS, joined its exhibits since I entered and saw a hundred different tutorials on youtube, my favorites being Castagnet, Zbukvic among others.  However, to no avail have I fully learned how to use the medium like they do.  It seems like I would have to abandon oil for a very long time and just concentrate on watercolor if I really wanted to be adept with it.  I don’t want to do that.  Right now, I paint in watercolor for the fun of it, like what art making should be. 

 There have been a few occasions when my friends Sarah and Jerry, both good watercolorists, have urged me to try adapting my oil painting style with watercolor.  One would think that ought to be easy since my style  supposedly carries the word transparent and watercolor is just that – transparent. Ironically enough, it does not work that way.  The way one applies the brush strokes with both mediums for one thing is very different.  It is like a guitarist trying to play the piano.  The guitarist should embrace the bridge of the guitar and pluck the strings with a strong, firm hand. Piano tiles, on the other hand, should be cajoled softly and with loving tender care.  In both instruments, one plays with passion albeit differently. That is my analogy, whether it is apt or not, whether other artists would see it the way I do or disagree with me.

What I notice with watercolor is that there seems to be an accepted way one has to deal with it. This reminds me of exhibits and art competitions which have to undergo a jury of ones peers.  This jury of masters dictate the aesthetics of what a good watercolor painting should be.  To me, this standardization of the medium, especially in competitions disallows watercolor to grow.  This is also the reason why I do not approve of the proposed leveling from beginners to masters of the practitioners.  There should be other ways the medium can be used if only we could open our minds and let the practitioners explore other possibilities.  I admire my classmate and friend, Buds Convocar,who has developed a different way of using the medium which to my mind, is very successful. This is how I want watercolor to be if only I could.  Otherwise, let us continue to be among the herd, each one a repetition of the other.