Every painting session for me is a life lesson. It’s my subconscious guiding me towards what it wants me to change in my world view. This particular watercolor sketch, created while sitting on a windowsill in Paris, amidst a heat wave, was a huge breakthrough. Perhaps it’s a realization, to which all almost 40-year-olds arrive. It’s quite amazing, however, to witness it manifest itself while painting. I guess I call it “letting go.”
I tried so hard to measure out axis and relational positioning. I was mindful of perspective and the direction of all lines. Yet, there’s always room for human error. Your hand wants to keep going, not constantly stop for the math to catch up. Therefore, there were tons of mishaps, tons of re-dos and not having an eraser drove me insane. I guess no one has an eraser in real life – so that’s a true analogy right there – you cannot ever erase any of your decisions or actions.
I was trying to bring myself back to focusing on the big shapes, doing what I preach. But my mind wanders constantly. It doesn’t want to linger long enough to follow through. I knew that there were certain shapes and tiny little accents to which I was initially drawn. I could have just focused on those. However, my eyes kept noticing new nuances: a lamppost here, a bright red flower pot there. I wanted to be a proper artist – depicting details of what’s in front of me, concentrating on the scale of things and the relationships of objects within my sight. But this paintings just wanted to keep going somewhere where my mind could not control it. My inner child wanted to wreak havoc on order and realism. It wanted freedom.
At the end of this arduous battle between my inner voice and my calculating mind, I realized that no matter what I do, no matter how hard I try to depict this world in accordance with any normalized standards, it’ll still be my version of it. I’ll be the one taking the world in, and translating it onto a watercolor sheet, or consequently onto canvas. It can be as accurate or inaccurate as I want it to be. I can go ahead and outline what speaks to me, leave out what doesn’t. It’s not about what the viewers will see or say. It’s about what I want to say.
Is this a realization where all people arrive at some point? Perhaps somewhere around your mid-life crisis? You stop caring about how your actions will be taken, and simply do what feel right to you?
Our family vacation with three kids, across three different provinces in France, meeting multiple family members and friends, began in Paris and lasted for almost three weeks. I was able to hold onto this motto of “do what feels right for me” throughout the whole journey. I compromised a lot less than I usually do. I took time for myself. Everyone was so much more calm and relaxed than usual. In the end, this was probably the best vacation of my life.
It’s not about what others will see or say about you. It’s about what you want to say with your life…