“I am not an artist”

But that’s not the point. The point of creating art is that you allow yourself to access colors, sounds, frequencies (all the same thing actually), and arrange them in a way that feels good, or feels true, or just emerges from your feelings. Or it could simply be a process, a set of rules and patterns that make it possible to begin activation and making something a physical reality.

My wife and I have a “Date Day” every couple of weeks, and we take turns planning the activity or destination. Yesterday was her day, and the activity was sitting down on our back patio to create watercolors. She is an artist, in that she minored in Art in college, has sold several works, and continues to create paintings and mosaics that hang in our home and in the homes of friends and family. Her style is less structured, and she seems to create better after she has begun the physical act of painting.

I, on the other hand, need some ground rules, at least some semblance of a destination, and a rough outline of one way to get there.

I looked up some photos that might lend themselves well to watercolors. I know that faces and the human form often frustrate me, so that was out. I remembered seeing a hot air balloon floating above Gilroy last week, found some images on pexels, and picked one.

Hot air balloons are colorful, but they are also an object that is manufactured through an industrial process. This means there is a structure, a cadence, and a visible set of rules that were followed. For me, this was appealing as a model to use for my watercolor.

The general rule was that each color was contained in a grid, and the colors progressively made sense. They weren’t a strict following of the spectrum, but they were guided by it (a quick jump from red to green without some shade of yellow between would be breaking the rule. Each color was similarly sized.

Once I had these basic guidelines, I knew how to begin. And occasionally, I disregarded them, and followed what felt right. I enjoyed the act of doing it, and the experience with Kristen. Watching her paint is not something I’ve done for a long time but I always appreciate observing the process. To be an active participant reminded me that it’s not about the final product (at least not for me) but it’s about the doing, the moving, the making something out of nothing, and then learning from it, and moving on.

I may not do another watercolor for another few years (I hope I do) but it felt good to create something that was uniquely me, that could have only come from my own hand. It’s not winning any awards, and I’m honestly embarrassed to show it, but I liked the experience and highly recommend it to anyone looking to break their routine.

Colorful painting of a hot air balloon