Andrea Lani
Mother ~ Nature ~ Writer
Nobody sees a flower—really—
it is so small it takes time—
we haven't time—
and to see takes time, 
like to have a friend takes time.
~Georgia O'Keefe
Yesterday I completed my 100th watercolor painting. I started in April, as part of The 100 Day Project, a worldwide art project in which participants do a creative activity every day for 100 days and share their progress online. I chose watercolor painting, which I've always wanted to learn but have never taken the time to do so.

I overcame my initial resistance, which mainly related to space, mess, and expense, by purchasing a cheap set of pan paints, then started with a few online lessons and attempts at imitating other artists' work, and went from there.

I had thought that the biggest challenge would be the patience required to wait for one color to dry before adding another, to avoid creating mud. I learned to start my paintings in the morning and come back to them throughout the day when I needed a distraction from other work. The true challenge was learning to understand the way watercolor paints behave and using those characteristics to achieve the results I wanted, rather than trying to force the paint into behaving in a way that is not natural to it, which only ends in frustration. This is a lesson that can be applied to many things in life, don't you think?

Because I posted images of each day's work on Instagram (@andrea.lani and #100daysofandrealearningtopaint) and Facebook, I had the odd experience of being publicly bad at something. Usually we display only our most polished work, but I had to let go of my pride and share every color blending exercise and botched painting effort. At first this was uncomfortable, but then it became liberating. I didn't profess to be good at this thing and, as I try to instill in my children and my writing and journaling students, it's okay, even necessary, to do something poorly before you can do it well.

And I did learn to paint, if not well at least better. I learned to lay down a solid wash of color to unify the painting, how to blend paints to achieve the colors I desired, and how to use masking fluid to retain small areas of white. About halfway through the 100 days, I reached the limits of my pan paints' capabilities and graduated to tube paints, adding colors to my collection as needed.

To try something new takes not only time and energy, but also courage, a willingness to bruise our own egos with our clumsy first attempts. At the same time it opens up something deep inside, a childlike sense of wonder, the thrill of exploration and discovery, and, I think, a broadening of the mind and opening of the heart.
Upcoming Workshops
Oct. 28: Fall Nature Journaling ~
Event Mapping, Viles Arboretum, Augusta 
January 20, 2018: Winter Nature Journaling ~
Trees, Viles Arboretum, Augusta 

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In this last full month of summer, take the time to really see a flower and to be a friend and, if you're brave, try something new. 
~ Andrea
Copyright © 2017 Andrea Lani, All rights reserved.

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