I have been slowly savoring this new book by Mary Whyte. It is beyond wonderful. Yes, it does have the usual stuff about her tools and what her palette contains. It also contains her triad of colors for painting skin tones. And, of course, it shows many of her paintings. But there is more here than meets the eye. This book is like sitting down and talking to a good friend who also happens to be an artist. She shares her thoughts on the work, the struggle (even she, she says, tears up 1 in 4 paintings!!!), the determination and the joy of being an artist working with people as her subjects.
I love her work even though my style is not like her style. She was born in Ohio, lived and attended art school in Pennsylvania (where she met her husband, Smith Coleman); they moved to South Carolina to open a gallery and framing shop after her battle with cancer in 1991 and he supports her every day, not just by showing her work in his gallery but by making frames for her work that compliment the beauty of painting (I would love to see a show of her paintings in real life).
After reading this, I can't say I learned any new techniques. I'm not a beginner - but if you are, you will learn some new stuff here. But I do feel like I have learned more about Mary Whyte as an artist - how she lives her days, what she works on and how, more about models and most of all, it gave me a feeling of joy to read. She truly loves watercolor - everything about it, including the mistakes! - and it shows in her writing.
If you like her work, you will love this book. It will be a treasured friend on your bookshelf, waiting to give you confidence and support when you need it. I can see myself picking this one up again and reading Chapter Nine: Life as an Artist whenever I need to boost myself up a little or just remind myself that it's not all sweet tea and cake but the work that gets you there in the end.
And I have been working. I just can't show you anything yet. I'm past the planning stage of a full sheet painting for my Viewpoint entry but am still in the drawing on tracing paper stage. I'm taking it slow and easy and trying to not stress but do the work a little every day. I may have something interesting. And Mary says:
"Improving your work takes effort and time. It will not happen in a day, but when you are engaged in an endeavor that truly interests you, there won't be enough days in a week to satisfy your appetite to learn more."
"If you want to get better at doing anything, you must be willing to experience failures. Every seasoned artist I know has done many paintings that were failures...When you make mistakes, you have two choices: Give up or try again."
This life of art is not for sissies!