Its joy month, and I spent some time searching for plants with the word “joy” in the name. On a page about floor names, I happened upon this picture of fuchsias.
I immediately remembered the first time I saw fuchsia flowers. I was about 11 years old and had stopped by a florist’s greenhouse on my way home from a Shakespeare for Children play practice. With Ophelia on my mind, I wandered the fragrant aisles. Never having seen fuchsia flowers before, I was captivated by their mix of pink and purple. I loved the way the blossoms tumbled out of the pot and the stamens reached out of the petals as though the plant was exploding with joy.
It took me several tries before I got a pencil drawing with which I was satisfied. The folded petals of lighter pink in the center of the blossoms were challenging to draw. When I started adding paint, I had trouble finding a lighter pink tone. Eventually, I went back to one of my old paint sets. When I backed away from the painting, I was unhappy with how distorted the blossoms had gotten. I gave up on the semi-realistic version and started on one that was more decorative.
The second painting was more relaxing to paint, but I found myself drawn back to the first to finish it.
I discovered that, by putting a few drops of water in a discarded cap and adding a fresh load of bright pink, I could energize the light pink areas.
Unfortunately, Cynthia is no longer my PCA. She stopped coming as coronavirus fears ramped up. When it came time to paint the stamens and the surrounding green, I really missed her. My head is too wobbly to paint a straight, fine line.
I wrangled my way through the painting, alternating with working foreground and background. When I finished, I felt satisfied, but not thrilled with it.
As I began searching for snippets to use in my newsletter, the word “overworked” came to mind.
- its so important to identify light areas and keep them clean and safe from the beginning in watercolor painting.
- I can have a happier experience by choosing my image carefully. Had I “zoomed in” on one blossom so the stamens could be thicker in the picture, I would’ve had less struggle.
- The process was good practice in choosing joy. Each day was an exercise in what Brené Brown calls “rising skills.” I had to recover from disappointment, feel my feelings, and claim a story of self-compassion and joy. .
- I wonder if I have energy to do another fuchsia painting along the lines of the second point above…
I was particularly interested to hear your story of first seeing fuchsia flowers. The memory of where you were coming from, and your senses about the flower are the sort of detail that some of my early memories also carry. It is interesting to me that I remember (it feels like) many experiences that Warren has no memory of (which surprised me because he was older, and, I thought more aware). [Of course one might also carry a suspicion that one had “false memories”; another remembered participant doesn’t remember because they never happened!– but I’m inclined to think my memories are real and true–and in ancy case are often “useful”}. One of my life learnings, (from forty years of sermonizing) is that it is often the seemingly mundane and even trivial events and experiences that sometimes best illustrate a fundamental truth- about such things as compassion, joy, hope, delight, forgiveness, and grace.