Getting Trashed

26 Aug 2014

I've heard of painting for yourself, for school, for work, but painting for the trash can?! Artist and watercolor painting instructor Jean Haines explains why working this way isn't rubbish at all. Enjoy!

The aim of being an artist is to create. But with this desire of creating wonderful paintings that can be framed or exhibited comes an enormous amount of pressure. We expect to always succeed in our goal to capture a scene or subject. I strongly believe it is this stress factor that can put off the beginner or lead to gaps in a professional artist's practice, times when they simply don't feel like they can pick up a brush and be successful. Or it becomes a point of despondency because one thinks he or she will never able to reach his or her goal.

 

I painted this watercolor exercise (with cadmium yellow and French ultramarine blue) for fun, for the bin, and with the aim of simply achieving vibrant fresh color on paper with texture effects for added interest.
I painted this watercolor exercise (with cadmium yellow and French ultramarine blue) for fun, for the bin, and with the aim of simply achieving vibrant fresh color on paper with texture effects for added interest.
In this watercolor painting for the bin, pigment is breaking up by use of simple water application. I refer to this watercolor painting technique as "water flow." Indigo and French ultramarine blue formed amazing patterns in the experimental wash.
In this watercolor painting for the bin, pigment is breaking up by use of simple water application. I refer to this watercolor painting technique as "water flow." Indigo and French ultramarine blue formed amazing patterns in the experimental wash.
Abstract result from purely experimenting with watercolor and textural effects.
Abstract result from purely experimenting with watercolor and textural effects.

In my studio I start and close each day with color experiments that, over time, have improved my art and my knowledge of the watercolor painting medium. In my watercolor art workshops I encourage everyone to experiment similarly with color first rather than always aiming to create a masterpiece straight away. Many experiments don't turn out right the first time, and it's alright to toss them in the bin (which is what we call the trash can in Britain). But while I am painting for the bin, I often unintentionally create pieces that are perfect for framing.

The key is to create a fun and light mood while experimenting, which is what I try to do during my watercolor painting lessons, and the results are incredible. I sometimes get the feeling many artists are too serious about their work and that they have forgotten how wonderfully enjoyable the experience of creating can actually be! Having fun with this process has aided my own growth and led me to completely new and exciting discoveries in watercolor painting techniques.

I constantly challenge myself by looking for new color combinations and pigment reactions, and I am fascinated by the reactions of artists attending my demonstrations. The joy they express when told not to paint a subject but to simply love working with color is amazing. I think possibly being given permission to "play" instead of always aiming for that special painting frees our inner artist and pushes us on our own road of discovery.

So the next time you don't feel like painting, how about letting go of all your inhibitions and self-imposed restrictions and free yourself by doing this exercise:

Paint four scraps of paper with different colors. Set yourself the challenge of making each one unique. Increase the challenge by not allowing yourself to use your favorite shades. Look out for great experimental results and use them in your more serious compositions. And remember to simply paint for the trash bin and take the pressure off of your shoulders.

I was once told if your bin isn't full, you haven't practiced enough! Although be warned, this exercise can become completely addictive, and that means taking out "the trash" more often!

*****

I love Jean's energy and unself-conscious approach to her painting. As a watercolor artist, she's definitely shown me that color is king and that a sense of play is an absolute must. If you are looking for more on how to paint watercolor without forgetting the fun, we have our available Chinese Watercolor Premium Palette for you now--a kit of inspiration for incredible artwork that reminds all of us how freeing and fun our art should be!

 


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Comments

akartisan wrote
on 9 May 2012 2:24 PM

I would not throw those away.  I use things like that for future collages, book covers, cut up into cards and several other ideas.

on 12 May 2012 12:27 PM

Fabulous exercise with beautiful results! Pure right brain - creative, innovative and inspiring - love it!

cando1 wrote
on 12 May 2012 7:17 PM

I was completely "stuck" w/the pressure to produce hangings for several galleries, finally getting to the point where I was paralyzed with fear that I could no longer paint anything worth hanging. So I stopped supplying the galleries and started painting for the sheer joy of creating. Once again, I am in love with my art journey, and lo and behold, a number of excellent, fresh pieces have resulted from my freedom to create for ME. Jean's advice is excellent...a (art) life saver for many of us.

Carolyn Yager