Here is my question: Is your life a watercolor or an oil painting? Let me explain ... I’m so excited to have started my first oil painting class in Old San Juan, recently. Something happened, though, that I wanted to share because I feel it impacts how we look at our lives. I have never really worked with oil paints, only watercolor or pencil. So, I am super excited to learn! The class is held in a great old building with a courtyard, open windows, and the smell of paints and turpentine. It is entirely in Spanish and I hardly speak a word so the teacher spent more time showing me what to do rather than telling me. But first, here is one of my paintings from the other night.
See all those icky drips? The teacher came over and wanted me to fill in the objects with color, and since he couldn’t tell me with words, he showed me. The first brush stroke he made, created a huge drip. He wasn’t a bit concerned! Not in the least! He didn’t even notice! It made me tense. It was an OUCH! I saw that drip, dripping down on my beautiful canvas. The accompanying thought was that he ruined my painting and he didn’t even care!
Then I realized that this was an oil painting class, not watercolor. With watercolor, if you drop a big drip of dark paint on the paper, you are screwed. It’s done, it is never going to look like you intended. You might have to just start over or live with the big blob or rush to blot the mistake before it sets into the paper (and even then, it is never really the same). With oil, you can simply paint over whatever happened. If you have a big blob of unintended black, you can cover it with white. No reason to get tense or worried, EVER. It is an ever-evolving masterpiece and will end up just the way you want it. I could also see in that moment how many times something happens in life and we feel like it is ruined. A fight? Ugly drip! A business failure? Big ugly drip! A breakup? Super big, black ugly drip! We feel dissatisfied or think we need to start over. With oil, everything is simply a layer that can be painted over and over and over as many times as we want. And, in fact, oil requires you take a bit of time with your “mistakes”, letting it dry, rather than rushing to fix it as with watercolor. So again here is my question: Which medium are you using for the painting of your beautiful life? Oil or watercolor?