The Value of Works in Progress

I’ve been taking a watercolor class at the local art center. The teacher is fun, and the class is both low-key and informative. For whatever reason, while I enjoy taking workshops and classes, I do better on my own, applying what I’ve learned, than what I end up with in the classroom.

But somehow, this class has been different. There is some instruction, but it’s mostly techniques. We work at our own pace, and are encouraged to ‘go with the flow’ so to speak.

During the first couple of sessions, I scrapped a lot of what I was doing. It wasn’t working for me. But then came the fish. The class worked on a loose interpretation of a painting that the instructor had done years ago. It was a lovely scene – three Koi in water.

Make it your own, she told the class. This is your painting.

I started out okay but messed up and set it aside. Started over on another sheet of paper. Wanted to test some colors, so went back to the first attempt. It was ruined anyway, so I might as well just play a bit. I loaded a large brush with a deep dramatic blue and swept back into the painting.

And that’s when everything changed. A light bulb went off.

Oh, I thought, it’s just like a first draft!

Here’s my fish.

three fish slice.jpg

And here is today’s effort. It’s not finished. I like some things about it, some are okay, and some parts could use a trip to the woodshed.


half finished but in mat.jpg

I’ll go in later with some ink, maybe some acrylic paint or some chalk. I’ll think of something. Because even if I’m not happy with how it looks, it’s not a failure: it’s a work in progress.


10 thoughts on “The Value of Works in Progress

  1. Thanks for your kind words. It IS a great class. Ending soon, as the teacher heads back home soon. But perhaps her best lesson lies in letting each student find their own path.


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