posted: February 9, 2007
A water color demo in my class....
Still wrestling with this medium. Sometimes I get something pretty good but very often I abort the whole mission, leaving a brownish mess on my paper. OY VAY!!! I've been kinda reading studying three artists lately, Edwin Dickinson, Sorolla, and Fetchin (whose book I just bought from Bud Plant, pretty cheap). One of these artists, I think it was Fetchin, actually recommends that one should stick to one medium (oil or water color). He goes on to say something like working in both diminishes the artists technical sensibility in both. Now, I don't agree at all but I know where he's coming from. In some ways, one medium can inform the other but each has its own application and state of mind. Here is a moment where I think I was in the right state of mind.
Scott Bakal February 9, 2007
Peter: Nice watercolors. I have to say, I think I share your pain. Watercolor is not something to be trifled with. It can be a mess in seconds. I am going to Savannah in March and I am going to be bringing 2 sketchbooks and a set of watercolors and I am going to go all out and give it a shot. I even picked up some water brushes and all that. I've been playing with them around here with mized results. Good luck!
Peter Cusack February 9, 2007
I like that Peter, you misspelled mixed as mized. But it does feel like mized results doesn't it! Good luck to you. Savanah, thats great. I hear its beautiful. Your a brave man to bring along, on a holiday, what can be a frustrating medium. Make sure you show me what you did when you get back. Have fun and thanks for checking in.
Leo Espinosa February 9, 2007
Dear Pedro: Once again, kudos for trying this beautiful medium I fear so much. I can tell that your paintings are goin to be the ones to benefit the most from this exercise. You are training your eye to trust instinct and spontaneity. Bravo! PS: The new masthead kicks ass! (Oops, am I allowed to say ass in Drawger?)
Nathan Malone February 9, 2007
Dear Peter: After ruining a few thousand watercolors in forty-plus years of painting them, I've picked up a couple of "do-nots" for myself which may or may not be helpful to anyone else. The North Light writer and watercolorist Charles Reid has a little zen-like tip: "Don't use too much water . . ." ( like the Zen recipe for sea snails--" All will be black . . ."). And then CR violates his own rule in all his work. Of course, Guillermo Roux, the Argentine artist, begins with barely discernible washes and then builds to a solid portrait or surrealistic bagatelle. Hmmmmm. The old Edgar A. Whitney apothegm doesn't seem to hold-- "Every mark with watercolor, if left unmolested, is ravishing . . ." It's nice to see your work, which I just discovered. Such technical proficiency and fine expression. Thanks for the chance to see your watercolors. If you'd ever like to see mine, e-mail me at and I'll show you where they are on the Net. Sincere best wishes, Nathan
Peter Cusack February 9, 2007
Leo thanks for checking in. Yes, ass is welcomed here. Oh shit, did that come out wrong! Your assesment is so on the money. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. It shows in the artists that I've been inspired by recently as well—Sorolla, Dickinson. I've been working on trusting that spontaneity. It's kinda like learning to surf. Nathan, thanks for the quotes. I'm writing you and e-mail right now. Talk soon.
Zina Saunders February 9, 2007
With your new header and forays into watercolor, it seems you're going through a metamorphosis, tapping into a new type of spontaneity. Great stuff, Peter.
Larry Ross February 9, 2007
Beautiful watercolor, Peter! You fellow drawgers are always surprising and inspiring me.
Peter Cusack February 9, 2007
Hey Larry thanks. Zina! You like my new header!! I had been planning on putting it up there for some time now. I could kinda see that it would fit and speak about my work and who I am. So thanks for noticing.
J.D. King February 10, 2007
New header, flowers: both are wonderful!
Christian Slade February 10, 2007
It says this was a demo for class. Are these the private classes you run or has a school got you on the payroll? Also, a great watercolor bloke is Robert Wade. Has an awesome book on plein air watercolor and just great smarts about the medium. Its called "Robert Wade's Watercolor Workshop Handbook". He was a student of John Pike, another brillant watercolorist from the early mid 20th century.
Tim O'Brien February 10, 2007
Hi Peter, I hate blanket statements like the one you quoted. If tomorrow we all traded easels or drawing tables and had to try everyone else's invented techniques, we would report all kinds of offenses. Tim puts acrylic over oil, Mark cracks up his work, Edel has to be doing something that people advise against. I could go on and on...oh and Robert Hunt looks like he is slathered in paint and chalk dust all mixed up to make great art. And that's the point. The unplanned drip, the texture from a misused varnish, the stuff we learned that made us who we are. All are outside of the 'how-to' methods. Watercolor is a thing I do on Vacation. I have learned a ton doing it. One was that controlling the bead of water meant controlling the smoothness or roughness of the final art. Taking watercolor away was just as important as putting in on. Finally I got better at water color when I stopped trying to do a oil painting in water color and actually looked at good watercolor and them attempted that look out in the field. Thanks for the post. Fun to read.
Peter Cusack February 11, 2007
KING, SLADE, O'BRIEN Thanks for stopping in. Christian this class is the one I teach with private students. Thanks for the book recommendation. I definitely want to build up that part of the ol' library. Thanks for the names. How you DOIN! Tim, great comment. I totally see what your saying, agreed. The invented techniques and unplanned methods come from experimentation and a long time sitting with the medium or in this case the mediums (plural). Water color on vacation—one of the reasons I am so determined to make this water color thing work is because I would like to travel and create on of those damn travel notebooks that you always see. Sketches, thoughts, beautiful locations, a little espresso on the piazza, nice pair of sunglasses and my water color kit. IM ALL ABOUT THAT!!! Thanks for your thoughts.
Robert Hunt February 11, 2007
Hi peter:Ive come back to look at this painting a few times now, I like it more each time.
Peter Cusack February 11, 2007
Hey Robert, I'm so glad you like it, thanks for coming by and leaving a comment.