The Loaded Brush

By | Newsletter, The Loaded Brush

If you have done more than a few watercolors there have been times when something extra special happens while painting. We’ve heard these moments called “happy accidents”. They are happy, but accidents? Maybe not. It may be a lucky moment of discovery. Almost like magic. It may be the advancement of your skill.

Real accidents can happen, messy and not good. It does happen. Recently I tore up and trashed several large pieces of what had been really nice rag paper. Both sides had been painted, wash-off was tried. They were beyond reasonable use. The paper was truly worn away. Out they went. I call that quality control. I’ll bet you’ve done that also.

And…there are times when good things happen that we try to duplicate and it’s not always easy. It might even be the very part of that painting that catches the eye of the public or a juror. If something happens that mysteriously adds to your collection of skills consider yourself lucky and keep it if you can.

I have a quote saved from a long ago. It’s from the great American author Tennessee Williams. Maybe it speaks to our subject even though he was, of course, talking about his art of writing. He said, “Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.”

Is that not an honorable goal of any artist? Your painting or mine may be simple and only a small slice of life, but the truth, indeed!

Over the decades I have painted watercolors I have discovered several things by so-called happy accident. I keep them in my pocket, up my sleeve. That sounds like a secret. Not so, I have no secrets but I have discovered several things that may still be unique in my work.

Some of you have watched me “paint” with old kitchen pot scrapers, my fingers, brushes chopped into weird shapes, self-made rubber stamps, a worn paper towel in my left hand and anything else that gets the result I’m looking for. Here is some of that “junk”. If you have extra and strange ways of painting, we’d be delighted to see that. Whatever is in your pocket or up your sleeve, be friendly and show us.

Dwight Williams

Respite and Sanctuary…

By | Newsletter, President

There is an old saying that “life” is what happens while you are busy making other plans. The truth of this adage was made clear to me last week when my mother was returned to the hospital in Ft. Collins. She had cracked her pelvis in a fall last month but had seemingly recovered. This was a set of new, and as yet undiagnosed, problems that made her very ill. Driving the 797 miles to Colorado non-stop, alone and without a radio, gives the mind a lot of time to worry and dwell on unhappy possibilities. Spending three days visiting her, talking with the health care providers and meeting with my sister was by turns encouraging and frustrating. It became apparent that at 96 years of age, my mother’s life, while not immediately threatened, is entering that last phase where a continuing series of health issues will probably be the normal state of affairs. Driving home on Friday, I could see where for the foreseeable future, the plans Betty and I have made will no doubt be revised in light of this new reality.

I don’t mean for this message to be overly gloomy. My sister and I had planned for mom’s final years and had the living arrangements made. But the nature of the illness means that all those preparations will probably have to be altered, in ways we don’t yet understand. I know many of you have dealt with similar situations and can relate to the consternation and worry that such developments bring. What I do know is that the travels and concerns had worn me out and arriving home in Boise was a welcome respite to the continuous worry of the previous week.

Finally, yesterday afternoon, I was able to spend a few hours in my studio area in the garage, working on the painting I had left a week ago. After a while, the comfortable routine of finding the right color, wetting the paper and bringing the image to life with the application of the brush (a #2 round of course) lifted the burden of the past few days and I felt calmer and more relaxed. For me, that is one of the most precious miracles of art. Your studio space and the art you create are a sanctuary for the mind and spirit. At least for me, when engaged with a project, my mind is occupied and at peace – the outside world and all its problems is banished from my consciousness.

I hope each of you also has a place, a sanctuary, where your art is your only concern and your sole focus. And I hope each of you also finds the same respite from all the concerns of daily life when you are in that place. You can go there, leave the world behind to make art, and come away refreshed and at peace.

– Dennis