Beginner’s Mind

You’re never too old to learn. In fact, one of the students in my Experimental Watercolor class yesterday said something I firmly believe in, “If you stop learning, what’s the point?” He’s 95 years old and we were heading to the hairdryer station so he could learn a new technique for helping watercolor spread and dry.

WatercoloristI’m lucky to be part of the Des Moines Art Center’s partnership with the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival this weekend. It was such an honor to work with about 50 veterans in two workshops at the Marriott in downtown Des Moines. And a challenge to work with a range of experience with watercolor from none to professor!

But my approach to art is very dependent on keeping a beginner’s mind, having fun, and trusting the process. One of the veterans also mentioned Wabi Sabi, another concept I really like. I hope my work reflects these things. Getting ready to hang a show at First Unitarian Church will give me a chance to look back and check it out.

I love to experiment. I’ve taken like one class in traditional watercolor, and finished the course feeling very ambivalent about the medium, if not downright averse to it. But when I started working with kids and using watercolor as an easy-to-clean up medium my attitude changed. And taking experimental watercolor classes from Janet Heineke changed it drastically.

At the Creative Arts Festival, we had lots of materials for experimentation–dry pigment, spray bottles for water, hair dryers, materials for collage. We let each group play with the materials on large sheets of high quality water paper. Then we used little mats and frames to locate our “work of art.” Most cut out this small part of their work, framed it and took it home. So great!

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