Practicing Patience: Favorite Inch by Favorite Inch

watercolor collage painting

Let’s start with an exercise, shall we?  “Breathe in trust.  Breathe out fear.  Breathe in trust.  Breathe out fear.”

What does this teach us?  To calm down.  To be in the moment.  To practice PATIENCE.  But why?

Making art is a lengthy process.  I should know.  This particular piece took 10+ hours and several class periods to complete.  At times, it looked so abstract that I feared nothing would come of it.  But as fellow artists know, once you’re in the middle of a project, you only have two choices.  Quit to avoid failing (which actually translates to an automatic failure) or continue on the path and see how it turns out.  I chose the second option because I’m just stubborn like that 😉

The process of watercolor collage painting involves dyeing handmade paper using liquid watercolor paint.  Then you have to let each piece dry.  Meanwhile you sketch your scene.  Then you painstakingly glue each colored piece to your paper using matte gel medium.  You can’t be sure if you’ve colored enough pieces for each section.  Also be aware that your hands will become dyed and glued very easily!  All you can do is trust the process.

What can I say?  The end result was satisfying.  But is that always the case?  Sometimes you reach your destination after a lot of hard work to find a breathtaking sight.  Other times, you feel discouraged by your work.  You may also feel like it goes unappreciated.  But patience and perseverance are always the keys.

“Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.” — Hal Borland

If you don’t feel up to it, try this exercise:  “Find your favorite inch.”  I learned about this at a recent workshop at the Mazza Museum for children’s illustration in Findlay, OH.  One of the speakers mentioned that when you’re feeling down about your art, search for your favorite part inside a piece of art.  You can also use this exercise when viewing art at a museum or gallery as a learning tool.  There must be one part you’re satisfied with in your work.  It could be an interesting line or angle, a character’s expression, a unique color.  Something is always working in a painting.  It is your job to find it, which can be extremely difficult when self evaluating.  Once you identify your sweet spot, work from that.  Think of it as a stepping stone.  Achievement always begins with a single step.  In this case, a single brush stroke.

Let’s review:  Breathe in Trust; breathe out fear.  Practice patience.  Find your favorite inch.

And when all hope is lost, just remember:

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” — Harriet Tubman

As the new year approaches, keep reaching!

 

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