My instructor gives us lots of freedom to keep trying, to be unafraid of “messing up” the paper, to try out new ideas and to find that anything (almost) can be scrubbed out and started afresh. Of course, only cold pressed, thick (and expensive) paper makes this possible which makes me more nervous about “wasting” the paper.
Trying Too Hard
The most infuriating discovery came recently, when I realized some paintings only get worse by trying to fix them. Watercolor artist’s genius comes form knowing when to stop. One student actually announces in class, “Stop, stop, stop. You’re done,” and puts her paint brush down.
I could learn from her, too. I’ve overworked some of my potentially lovely paintings. I dropped color, became impatient with the slow drying, dropped in more color, blotted out, tried a darker hue, then scrubbed it all out. The paper holds up, but the crisp spontaneighty of line and color fade into tortured attempts to make the tree look RIGHT. The clarity and spontaneous strength of watercolor can easily die from tortured attempts to make it look perfect.
Watercolor cannot be forced, it’s too fluid and playful.
Ugly, Learning Experiences
I looked up, “You think I should stop?” She nodded and said,
“That painting is a learning experience.” Not sure I like appreciate learning experiences. They feel wasteful, unframeable, shadowed moments of my life.
I’ve had a few share of friendships that were learning experiences. They began so hopefully, seemed to express lots of mutuality. But something went wrong, a misunderstanding, a grudge nursed, a move, a change in interests, a jealous moment.
And rather than allow the difference to naturally separate us, I moved in with renewed determination.
I will. fix. this.
I dropped fresh color and attempts apologies, even for things I didn’t think I had done wrong.
I scrubbed out part of who I was to show my renewed energy to be a good friend.
These friendships didn’t make it. Effort wasn’t enough.
Sometimes even forgiveness isn’t enough to reconcile a friendship. Even God doesn’t ask us to reconcile every relationship, though he does ask us to forgive. Jesus himself wasn’t ever reconciled to Judas, to the Sanhedrin, to the executioners , though he forgave them.
Sally has taught me a lot about trusting your gut in friendships. So has my husband. There are times when a friendship is done, it cannot be worked over one more time. To do so can even ruin the clear, spontaneous memories you still have.
How do you know a friendship is over?
A few earmarks I’ve picked up from those learning experiences. If you can answer yes to two or more below, perhaps it’s time to put your brushes down, to sigh and to pull out a fresh piece of paper.
- Am I doing most of the friendship footwork? Am I the primary initiator for getting together, offering help, suggesting activities, offering gifts, connecting?
- Has the air between us felt awkward and forced for two or more months?
- Do I have trouble remembering what I like to do with this friend?
- Would it be safe to say we’ve both changed and thereby moved apart?
- Do I dread seeing them?
- If I imagine releasing them to spend more time with other friends do I feel primarily peace, relief or freedom?