Spring has arrived in northern British Columbia, and I’m loving the fresh air, the rain, the crackle of gravel under my feet as I run country roads, the fuzzy pussywillows and lavender crocuses. While the leaves aren’t out on the trees quite yet, we are watching eagerly for that first tinge of green across the hillsides (I call this the “greenus” and make it a point to shriek “THE GREENUS” at the top of my lungs as soon as I see it. No wonder my family finds me so lovable!)
I’ve been thinking about trees a lot for the past year and a half, as I dubbed 2015 “the year of the tree” and most of my paintings were tree-oriented. I painted bark, and leaves, and forests and stumps. Trees in winter, trees in spring, summer and fall, trees in crisp detail and loose and flowing trees. Trees with expressive, calligraphic lines, and trees that were abstracted to single shapes. I tried new and crazy colour combinations, and techniques, and as my studio started to pile with sketches, studies and half-finished paintings, I didn’t know if I was really getting anywhere in my search for the best expression of the trees of my region, but I could at least say I was trying.
Watercolour for me is very much about having faith. Having a vision in my head and heart that can feel so elusive and impossible to capture. When I’m in a learning phase, I can only keep telling myself that I will get through it and that learning is happening (it’s hard to tell when nothing is turning out and every painting looks more amateurish than the one before), and believe in my ability to find a connection between the painting I want to do and the painting I am doing. And you know what? It always works out! One day, I will find my brush just dances across the paper, and it feels like magic again…at least until the next learning phase. So I welcome the learning, because without the struggle, I wouldn’t see the growth.
My 18 months of tree study have been good for my growth as an artist, and they are good for my watercolour students too, as I have taken some of the lessons I have learned and put them into a brand new online course, “Watercolour Tree Clinic.” In nine video lessons I share techniques and colour combinations for better trees in watercolour, full demonstrations on how to paint trees both individually and corporately and how to develop your own personal “tree language” or style in your paintings.
Watercolour Tree Clinic opens for enrollment April 13 and closes May 15, 2016. Join my mailing list to be notified when enrollment opens, and watch for special class launch events on my Facebook page and Youtube channel. I’ll be broadcasting live twice on Wednesday, April 13th, sharing tips for better trees in watercolour. I’m hoping to do these new mini-courses, focused on single themes or subject matter, every other month.
For me, a huge part of watercolour is sharing. I just don’t feel like a painting is complete until I’ve had the chance to share it with others, and I love sharing my painting discoveries with the students in my classes. So this tree course really is exciting as I come full circle from learning to teaching.