a master's voice

i am grateful for the disorderly dim racks at accent arts, because by rummaging through the books there i found my first art treasure: the watercolor book by david dewey. in it i discovered a master's voice.

i bought dewey's book because the appellof book was too much for me to handle. it was a clutter of artists giving piecemeal advice. dewey's approach was coherent, complete, and in depth.

i read it straight through with a sizzling excitement. the many scattered bits of painting all came together, the missing pieces fell into place, the puzzle formed an image.

for the first time, i saw the journey ... the adventure of painting.

dewey demonstrated the depth of his experience through his knowledge of color theory, his evaluation of various art products, and his understanding of all aspects of technique.

he seemed to choose paints with specific effects in mind, and i began to see the complexities of pigments, paints and "colors".

his emphasis on key principles and skills, his orderly presentation of materials, the assembly of elements into larger units, all this signalled the importance of steady work, patient practice, and the gradual accumulation of craft.

painting seemed both a more important thing and a more possible thing, something that i could do, too, if i only worked at it.

dewey clearly still worked at it ... he used a sketchbook, made studies before he painted. he seemed to care about painting as an act, an activity, a process — not the painting as a thing, a goal, an achievement.

dewey dispelled the expectation i had picked up from other art books in the pile that painting was a series of quick tricks, a little practice and it's a cinch ... ten minutes and ten easy steps to winning glorious watercolors!

glorious i got. i couldn't figure out why anyone would want to do a winning painting ... i guessed it was like a toothpaste promising me a winning smile.

the demonstration paintings and the graded exercises were delightful to look at. i realized that every work from one's hands, no matter how small or quick, must be done with a heartfelt attention to craft.

everywhere in dewey's book was the plain display of artistic excellence. the simple exercises that can't be mastered, no matter how many times they are tried ... the consistent study that returns each day to simple sketches and color diagrams.

i fell in love with painting again, because i realized it was inexhaustible.

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