Practice Matters

practice sheet
watercolor, 15 x 22 inches
I have a friend in Myrna Wacknov. She is a fellow watercolor painter, teacher and a likeness of me in her art habits. So What, you ask? She practices a lot.

Check her blog out and look back at the incredible amount of practice and challenge she puts to herself. Her recent article about the value of value studies talks about her struggles with them, but it reveals an aspect of her character: that she is determined to conquer the most basic elements and decisions prior to making a painting. Do you suppose that is why she has so many successes over and over again?

Looking at the last few posts here, you know I am working on this one idea of a lot of figures in a single scene.

So, the mood must be set properly. The lighting (values) and the figure movement and placement must be right. That is a sure set up for becoming neurotic and tight in the painting process. This image needs to be loose and free to go along with the mood of the piece.

I am lousy at painting figures, (but getting better every time I do it). I need to be better at the gesture with a brush in making the figure. I need to practice until it is second nature.

No pouting allowed, Mike. Practice it until you get good at it. Just like throwing a ball. No good at first, but the skill can be developed. I am only interested in using a big brush and laying down a simple few marks to indicate a moving figure. No details.

This could take WEEKS !! Really! Yes, it IS that important to me. Practice matters.

This piece of practice was a 45 minute exercise with 3 sizes of figures, using three different sized brushes: a ¾ inch flat, a one inch flat and a 1 ½ inch flat. All for the want of simple, direct moves . . . .flicks and twists of the brush to indicate human movement and mood.

I often remember my learning process in the skill of handwriting as a child. You probably remember, too, how much practice it took to become nearly unconscious as you make the letters now. Practice matters.

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