I painted this lotus flower study yesterday while doing a live painting session. As I was painting it, I saw a young teenager was watching me intently. One of the best things about a live painting session is having children come up and watch me paint, so I motioned for her to come over.
She told me that art was something she loved to do for fun, but it would only be a hobby because it was fun. She didn't have any art classes after elementary school due to budget cuts. She never learned color, so she was afraid of doing it on her own, so she just drew with a pencil and paper any chance she could get.
I was at the point where I had the flower drawn lightly in pencil on paper along with the first pass of watercolor. I was able to spend 20 minutes or so with her explaining my process. I showed her the really, really bad sketch that I abandoned hope on halfway through. I then showed her the mini color tests I used to make sure the colors were right before I put it down onto the paper. "Always plan to fail early and often so the real painting counts. Don't beat yourself up for something that doesn't work out. Learn the lesson and keep on moving.
For this painting, I used Winsor Newton Sepia and Cobalt Blue paints for the flowers. That's it. No other colors. I explained to her that I had not painted many blue lotus flowers, so I was scared of the color myself. By limiting the colors to two and having the patience to go slowly, I was able to get a world of shading and nuance of colors that would be impossible for me to get otherwise. Get a color wheel, pick two colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel, and mix the two. You'll get a neutral color like the dark color in my flower bud that allows you to paint with color. You can only go so far astray with two colors. I added Winsor Newton Sap Green to the stem (because I do try to keep one or two aspects of my paintings somewhere near reality) for a grand total of 3 colors used in this painting.
I think her parents found our conversation to be of value, because they sat everyone in their large party except for her. She left us to chat until I was finished sharing my mini lesson with her. This isn't the first time parents let their kids sit beside me while I paint and they watch from across the room. I'm always happy to have planted the seed for a life enriching hobby (or hopefully something more) with her.
When you share what you've learned with others, you often don't know what soil your proverbial seeds are landing on or what happens to them after their planted. That's why I try to cast as many seeds as possible so at least one or two can sprout. If they do, then it was worthwhile.