Watercolors: What took me so long? (Unfounded fear)

Suzette Standring
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Watercolors, I so admire watercolorists, painters, anyone who can put brush to canvass and create. After years, I finally signed up for a watercolor class.

In the first class, the teacher had us “shading spheres” so basically, I painted three balls. Later my granddaughter said one looked like a planet.  My God. Anything is possible!

My brother Steve, a mechanical engineer, is an exceptional watercolorist.  He can do fine detail using a one-hair brush and he wears professional magnifying eyeglasses.  

I once asked him, “Are they like the kind of glasses plastic surgeons wear when doing nose jobs?”

Two years ago — before taking actual painting lessons — attempted to do an arrangement of three pink peonies. Feeling so proud, I sent a photo of it to my brother.  In my email, I wrote, “Not bad, huh?”

What I really wanted to write was “Top that, sucka!”

He didn’t reply, so I called him.  “Whatcha think?”

Steve paused, the kind of delay when one searches for the utmost in grace and diplomacy. 

I said, “Oh, just spit it out.”

“Sue,” he said, “you need to pay attention to negative space.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s the space around or between the painted objects.”

“I don’t get it.  I painted three peonies.”  

“Yes, Sue, but look at the placement. It’s like you painted Mickey Mouse’s head.”

Suddenly, it was all so obvious. Two big round puffy ears and a pink head.  A couple of well placed bees would have given it eyes.

I didn’t touch another paint brush for years, until recently, when the Milton Council on Aging offered a watercolor class.  That’s what I needed.  To get into a class with other newbies, senior newbies like myself.  No judgment, no talk about negative space, a few lessons to set me straight.  

And now, there is hope.  After all I shaded a ball, and my granddaughter saw Neptune.

Note: This piece came about from a writing prompt in a class given by ElainePerson