“That’s all any of us are: amateurs. We don’t live long enough to be anything else.”
– Charlie Chaplin
We’re all terrified of being revealed as amateurs, but in fact, today it is the amateur—the enthusiast who pursues her work in the spirit of love (in French, the word means “lover”), regardless of the potential for fame, money, or career—who often has the advantage over the professional.
Because they have little to lose, amateurs are willing to try anything and share the results. They take chances, experiment, and follow their whims. Sometimes, in the process of doing things in an unprofessional way, they make new discoveries.
“In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities,” said Zen monk Shunryu Suzuki. “In the expert’s mind, there are few.”
Amateurs are not afraid to make mistakes or look ridiculous in public. They’re in love, so they don’t hesitate to do work that others think of as silly or just plain stupid.
The real gap is between doing nothing and doing something. Amateurs know that contributing something is better than contributing nothing.
Inspired by “Show your Work!” Book by Austin Kleon
John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) worked in watercolor throughout his career, but it wasn’t until he was in his forties, already famous painter, that his interests in the medium accelerated.
Exploring here the use of Dry Brush technique to express almost any subject on paper.
The term dry brush is actually a misnomer, as the paint on the brush is really damp.
With dry brush you use just a small amount of paint on the brush, working on dry or damp textured paper and dragging the brush across it to create broken areas of color or interesting textural brushstrokes.
By holding the handle low so that it is almost parallel to the paper, you will achieve the best results.
The technique is especially good for painting things like the bark of a tree, a course beard, hair, water and so on….
Here some great examples from Sargent’s masterful watercolors.