Watercolour painting is a microcosm of some of life’s learnings. One of those is about commitment, especially commitment when you can’t be sure of the outcomes.
The problem with commitment
Commitment is difficult for many people, primarily because it invokes the scary unknown future. What if this is a mistake? What if I don’t like it? What if I die?
Yet commitment is required for progress, it is required to get what we want out of life, to discover our true selves, and truly live.
Painting with watercolours is said to be one of the most difficult of media as it is the most difficult to control. Yet to get anything out it, one must commit paint and water to paper.
Watercolour as a process
As with most things, painting and making art is a process, not an event. Each painting is a process amidst a life time process of learning how to paint, learning what to paint, and becoming an artist.
It is a process without a known outcome. The desired outcome is not explicitly known in most cases, either. The run and flow of paint and water on paper is subject to so many external uncontrollable variables, including humidity, paper flaws, paint flaws, irreproducible paint/water mixtures, even artist fatigue, strength, vision and so on vary from day to day.
The process is about change
Once you touch brush filled with paint and water to paper, commitment begins to a new art piece. The initial touch causes paint to spread out, to reach into new areas. Touching again with a different pigment causes the first touch to change, the pigments mingle and become something new. The shapes, lines and textures form under repeated administrations of pigment and water, and eventually the work of art appears. It might not be as originally intended, but it is as it is.
Painting requires acceptance
And as with other things, you do not have to leave it as it is; you do not have to accept it cannot be changed. Watercolour is difficult, but it also changeable.
However, before you can begin to change what is on the paper, you have to accept what is already there. In only minor circumstances can you completely eradicate what is on the paper and start over. Even then, what is already there is still already there.
Taking what you get, you can modify it into something even more beautiful. By lifting paint in some areas, adding more in others, glazing over the top with a different colour, taking an inadvertent stroke and turning it into something extraordinary.
But still, all that requires that first acceptance of what actually is on the paper.
And also, as with most things, you can over-do the manipulation and create a puddle of mud on the paper. It takes understanding of when to stop, when to wait patiently, when to look anew.
Commitment is a creative process
So, too, with life, with relationships. Making a commitment to someone is entering a great unknown arena. Relationships are moments of contact, periods of being together, being apart, being with others, being alone. You can paint each one of these, each of these is a process in and of itself, amidst a lifetime process of commitment in the relationship.
The metaphor with painting requires the recognition of something else, though. When creating a work of art, a watercolour painting, you are making an expression of yourself. The metaphor in no way is intended to invoke the concept of manipulating or changing anyone but yourself. Not your partner, especially. The painting is each part of your relationship together, what you each bring to it in the moment of putting paint to paper, contact with each other, your words, your behaviour.