As April turns into May this week, I am celebrating another anniversary. This time the anniversary is connected to my career. Seven years ago, after 32 years as a professional water colorist, I decided to try my hand at oils. I have a passion for watercolors, but somewhere deep inside I wanted to know what my work could look like in oils. It was a scary step to break away from my old familiar friend, watercolors. I had lots of questions and some fears too. Would my style change? (Probably, due to the drastic difference in the mediums). Would my subject matter change? (I don’t think so). What would it do to my successful career as an artist? (Now that was the scariest question of all)!
It was May of 2003. I had a chance to study oils with OPA Master Zhiwei Tu at the National OPA Show in Taos. I took a deep breath and dove right into it. It was life changing. All of my knowledge of constructing a painting and drawing transferred over to the oils. However, it was a strange new creature in my hands. The oils didn’t like the way I held my brush or stroked the canvas. I had to learn new ways of mixing, applying and planning a painting. After spending my life taming the wildness of watercolors, this was a whole new challenge and all of it ignited a fire of creativity in me. As the paintings peeled off my fingers, one by one I began to feel the thrill of learning again. Like a child I explored all the possibilities and, like a child, I fell down a lot. Little by little I gained my feet underneath me and my paintings took on a stronger finished look. I know that God was nudging me to open a new door. When I did, I found my new voice, I found my new style, and I found a new medium to love.
And those scary questions that I was worried about? Well, my style did shift a bit. But, I am still doing impressionistic realism; The same subject matter compels me to paint; and as for my career, well, it just added more spice. New doors were opened to galleries, shows, museums and patrons. The lesson learned here is that if you have a passion in your heart, go for it! Follow your dreams! So, to my brushes and canvas I say… “Happy anniversary, may we never stop dreaming”.
Risky Business - watercolor from the late 80's