Thursday, 2 August 2012

Rules are just made to be broken!

Rules are just made to be broken!

Yesterday I was spending the evening with my art companions who shall remain nameless called Dave, John and Rod. Sorry, I just love doing that. As usual, it was an evening filled with conversation, some imbibing of wine, painting and critiques, followed by a late supper and then home. Now we all paint in various media, but one of Johns and my favourites is watercolour. Beginners seem to think that this is an easy way to start in art, but they could not be more wrong. It is a fantastic way to paint and results and finished paintings in watercolour  are unattainable in any other media. But it is an unforgiving medium, unlike oils which can be scraped off and the painting commenced once more, watercolour mistakes are far harder to change, it can be done, but always shows in the final result. Trust me, we know what we are talking about, having probably over 150 years experience between us all!

Having said that, there are what is called watercolour "purists" that  say no white should be used, but the colour of the paper should provide this. Also, no other medium should be used, for instance gouache or body colour. In other words, they have these "rules". Well, let them have their opinion, but if new ideas and experimentation were not to take place, not just in the art world but in any creative and especially the scientific sphere, we, as a species, would probably have ceased to exist years ago. A bit over the top Grandad you might say, but once again you would be wrong.

Science has progressed beyond even the most wildest imagination over the last 100 years or so. What was not thought possible in medicine and surgery when I was younger is now an everyday procedure. Why? Because someone experimented, someone dared to try a different approach, someone believed it could be done and by using various methods achieved the result envisaged.

It is the same in art. Do you think that the old masters would still be grinding and mixing their paints by hand? Of course they wouldn't. They would use the modern paints, water based oils (sounds crazy doesn't it? But having painted with them myself, they are an absolute joy to use), acrylics, etc, with the same pleasure that we do now. But I digress a little dear reader....

Getting back to the watercolours. John painted a lovely marine scene last night using watercolour. It didn't take long (he is  very experienced and a quick painter). Now, he had also added a little streak of Naples yellow in acrylic, highlighting the water which made the painting "sparkle", together with a few, and I mean a few, (it is very easy to overdo this), white highlights. Not pure watercolour then. Not adhering to the "rules". But what a painting it became because those rules were broken. The end result was far better than the painting would have been if left "pure".

The wisdom behind all this? Experiment dear reader, if it seems right to you and causes no other person any harm then do it! Dare to be different, think in an alternative way, go against the accepted "norm". Swim against the tide, question everything. I have tried to do this for most of my adult life and it's really darn good fun! Remember, the only rule is, "If you think you can, or think you can't, then you are probably right". Live long and prosper, until the next time, Grandad.

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