Procrastination vs. Incubation

“Market Flowers” – watercolor on paper – About 8″ x 6″ – Fabriano Artistico 140# cold press

I’m working on a big painting project right now – a full sheet watercolor that incorporates most of the different techniques I regularly know and use and a few new ones. It’s an ambitious project and I’m dedicated to seeing it through, even if I have to paint it multiple times. Right now, I’ve done the design and color studies, I’ve tested the colors I’m going to use on a separate sheet of paper and labeled them all to know what’s mixing with what. I’ve even abandoned one paper surface in favor of another. Ordinarily I would call this hesitation to jump right in “procrastination” – but the more I wait the more I’m working out other design issues, coming up with new solutions and so on. I think it is more like a period of gestation as the ideas take shape. All the while I read voraciously; I review my notes from class and from demonstrations I’ve seen. I test different ways of moving paint; I practice watching the sheen leave the paper for the exact right time to scrape away a highlight or to drop in a dollop of thick pigment. . I am like an actor rehearsing my timing, watchful that I don’t make awkward entrance too soon or an exit too late. Or like a juggler trying to keep all the plates spinning. My brush is a tentative dancer, exercising at the barre, trying to develop muscle memory so the moves become both spontaneous and automatic. I wait. I think. I test.

So while my project is percolating in the back of my mind, I did this brief and loose wc sketch of a flower vendor’s booth at Sunday’s farmer’s market. As you can tell, I’m thoroughly enjoying painting negative shapes (such as around the buckets and umbrella ) … and alternating warm and cool colors in one continuous passage – and even throwing in a few calligraphic brushstrokes for umbrella poles and bucket details. Any minute now I’m going to return to that big piece of 22 x 30″ paper – perhaps charged with a few new ideas about lights and darks and linking of shapes and colors.