I enrolled in a watercolor class at The Art League last winter precisely because I know nothing about watercolor. I have found that studying art in unfamiliar mediums helps me to see the familiar more clearly — that is to say, studying watercolor helps me to solve problems that I come across in, say, photography. It’s kind of like this: take a favorite picture and turn it upside down. You’ll see things you didn’t see before.
I chose Steve Fleming based on his portfolio — I figured, wow, if I could paint, I’d want to paint like he paints.
Originally, my intention for this post was to focus on the watercolors and the fun I’ve had learning to paint with them, showing a progression toward better in my paintings as the class went on. One of my first efforts a year ago was based on a photo of two men standing on a cliff, overlooking salty Pacific air in the late afternoon sun. My rendition was painted so poorly that the class interpreted it as a comical cowboy in a desert scene. ! The cowboy from that painting lives on three semesters later as a metaphor in class for solving problems:
“Values are far more important than the lone cowboy in the desert.” — Steve Fleming, Winter, 2011
I wish I had a more complete written list of the wonderful one-liners from Steve Fleming’s watercolor class to share with you. In hindsight, it might’ve made a Twitter feed to rival Justin Halpern’s. 🙂 But I digress.
At some point, I stopped writing notes in class and instead picked up my best camera — the one that’s with me, and in this case, my iPhone — and I started videotaping Steve Fleming as he presented his class demonstrations. The videos exploded my learning curve and everything changed. I began sharing the videos with my classmates, and the positive response got me to thinking larger about a project based on his work. Last week, we started the shooting and hopefully the final project will be posted later this spring.
Enjoy the teaser!
“We see the brightness of a new page where everything yet can happen.” —Rainer Maria Rilke