About six years ago, I had an epiphany. At the time, I was a capable watercolorist. I was painting high-key, transparent, skillful paintings. Without quite realizing what I was looking for, I signed up for a watercolor workshop with Skip Lawrence. In the course of that week, I made a quantum leap in the way I painted. I learned to talk in light and color. And I’ve never looked back.
When I walked into Skip’s workshop, I could paint a solid painting. We had been encouraged to bring in slides or examples of our work. And after the first day or two in class, Skip put up our pieces in front of the class. I was proud of the painting I had brought in, knowing it was a competent depiction of a favorite place. I’ll never forget what Skip said: “It looks like you’ve faithfully reproduced something without putting much of yourself in it.” Rather than being offended, I took his comments to heart. I thought about what he had said for the entire week I spent painting with him. By the end of the week my painting style had changed. I was using bigger brushes, denser paint, and I was painting with more conviction. These paintings, done in just a week, represented me more than anything I had done in years prior! By the end of the week I had done three or four paintings that really signified a change in my way of thinking. I began to depict not literally what I saw, but what I felt.