House in the Country, 11x15, 2015

The other day while thinking about what constitutes success in the art world, I noticed an article about a gallery in London called “The Sunday Painter.”  Intrigued, I read more and concluded that this term, which has always been a pejorative, may instead be used as a badge of distinction.  Stranger things have happened:  in the 19th century the impressionists were so named by a critic who dismissed them as painting mere “impressions” rather than finished paintings. Not everyone has the means to quit their job and devote their life to painting, but many painters dedicate their free time to doing what they love, ie making art and working to enhance their technique.

Continuing to ponder these ideas, I wondered if there was one single change which could strengthen my watercolors? I believe there is, and that is to work on edges. When I have been asked to jury an art show, I look closely at the quality of the borders between shapes. Variety adds interest and by including soft, rough, hard, and lost edges you will upgrade your work. .

For example, the simple shapes in “Down in the Valley” (above) are enhanced by losing the occasional margin between the back roof line and the dark foliage behind. Sharp edges on the windows and doors draw the eye to that area and make it a focal point. Some roughness on the forward roof line and the chimneys suggest a more rugged texture.

While not all of us can reach fame and fortune in the art world, we can reach success by painting at every chance and gradually improving. This watercolor is hanging in the gallery now at Tsuga Fine Art in Bothell.