5/14/18 – A Year of Watercolor
There are many ways to measure growth because it’s always happening, we’re always changing. Our bodies, hair, fingernails but also, our attitudes toward things, how we handle problems, how we perceive ourselves. It’s an interesting part of being human, being self aware, having the ability to see the course we’re on and make a conscious decision to stay on it or take a sharp turn.
I think anyone passionate about their work spends a great deal of time analyzing it. At least that’s true for me; I remember the satisfaction in college of hanging a finished piece or an edition of prints on the wall and reveling in that feeling of success and completion but, also wondering what I could’ve done differently, what I can change for the next project, what I could try that I haven’t thought of before. Eventually after a series of decisions, we get to a place we can see what the next few steps might be but, more importantly, we get to see how far we’ve come.
I find myself today at the 1 year mark of moving in with my boyfriend, Brian and setting off on the journey of being a working artist. I was never a painter in college but, it made sense to take a small palette of watercolor paints with me on my bicycle trip in 2016. I did some small, quick sketches along the coast to coast journey and when I came home to live with my parents again, watercolor was a very easy medium to set up on my kitchen table between breakfast and dinner. It wasn’t the ideal studio space but, it was all I had. However, I think a person’s potential is limited by the space they’re allotted to grow in, and while my kitchen table worked fine, a whole studio dedicated to my painting practice gave me a lot of room for my roots to grow.
Below are a handful of the first paintings I made at my kitchen table after coming home. I made small work very cautiously, often outlining in pen the key elements I didn’t want to lose track of when the water and paint hit the paper. While I was very proud of the results of my exploration, I knew I barely scratched the surface of knowing what the hell I was doing.
|'A Mysterious Ripple Made Me Question Everything' 6x8"|
|'A Brief Moment of Clarity Has Left Me Questioning Reality' 7x10"|
|'I Heard a Gentle Voice' 6x8"|
|'Among the Ancients' 7x11"|
That’s part of life though, right? There’s no excitement in pursuing something if you're already proficient in it. I don’t remember learning how to speak but, don’t you think there was some excitement and satisfaction in being able to translate your thoughts and feelings into words that your parents or sibling could understand? I feel that excitement when I set out to try something new in a painting and I end up with the results I was aiming for.
I’ve dedicated a lot of time in the last year to making the images I see in my head. Lots of days in the studio, plenty of good, plenty of bad and just as many abandoned paintings as finished pieces that I’m happy with. No matter what you’re passionate about, stopping to reflect and appreciate the hard work you’ve put in is an important part of growing; it’s like checking in with the compass and the map, even if you don’t have a destination in mind, you don’t want to be wandering in circles.
Below are a handful of the paintings I’ve started and completed in 2018 so far. I have a better sense of the trail I’m following but I’m also becoming more aware of the smaller paths that branch off and take me to new discoveries. Some paths dead end while others bring me back after seeing things I never would’ve seen had I not wandered off. It’s an interesting journey, this whole artist thing and I can’t even imagine what I’ll have to look back on in ten years from now.
|'The Same Old Moon in the Ever Changing River' 16x20"|
|'Nature's Cathedral Spires' 11x14"|
|'The Sudden Burst of Warmth, is the Earth Blushing?' 22x30"|
|'The Silent Spinning Universe is Drowned Out by the Last Crackling Embers' 11x14"|
Please visit DanBrenton.com to see a complete collection of watercolor paintings from 2017 and 2018. Feel free to get in touch about visiting my studio and starting a conversation about the creative process; learning from and inspiring one another is one of the greatest aspects of being an artist.