Watercolor Wednesday


Boots 1 © 2013 Denise Ortakales
Again, I had nothing good to paint so our instructor set up these boots that were lying around the classroom. And YES! She also found a spotlight! So I took the full class to draw these crazy boots and paint them. Good practice? Yes. Going in my portfolio? Not a chance.

And then that instructor did something sneaky the next week. She had the same pair of boots set up. Hmmm. What’s with that? Then she says to me, “Denise. YOU can take all the time you want to draw the boots, but I don’t want you to spend more than 15 minutes painting them.” What? No one else had that limit. Just me.

Boots 2 © 2013 Denise OrtakalesShe laid down the challenge. And I am one of those stubborn people that will take up most challenges, provided they don’t require physical strength or agility. So as I drew those boots, I formulated my plan. I painted in 5 minutes intervals, leaving it to dry between. And for my colors, I had to go for the jugular, use the big guns, those one-shot colors that gave me the value I needed so I didn’t have to keep layering. Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Quinacridone Gold, Moonglow, Sepia and . . . Prussian Blue! Laying it down gave me the shivers. THIS is what my frame painting, and other paintings were missing. The spontaneity. It’s sloppy and messy and scary but oh so beautiful to experience. My brain may crave precise detail, but my heart, my soul, delights in the visceral, unexpected happenstance when the control freak lets go!

Okay. I’m done patting myself on the back. It was an epiphany I had that I wanted to share. Now how to bring that into the rest of my artwork. That’s the question. And for the record, I’ve had a few other teachers challenge me before. And in the moment, I am never appreciative. But it truly is the mark of a good teacher, knowing when you can push someone to overcome their ownselves, to help them get out of their own way. Thank you to you all.

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