• Karen Thomas

Ten Years


I was chatting to a fellow watercolorist this morning. Brief back-and-forth messages, every now and then, reassure me that we're all on the same journey with our tempestuous and rather wonderful medium!

I stopped in my tracks when I read what I’d written. The sentiment was so eye-rollingly human. I said, “I’m having one of those days where I wish I was ten years-worth of painting practise better".

Woah there ...

Really? Miss ten years of the journey? Miss the elation when it goes well? The despair when it doesn’t? The little discoveries? The cheeky stolen afternoons where I’ve just cycled out somewhere with my easel and messed around with paint in glorious sunshine? I don’t think so.

Also, to what end?

If you transported me ten years into the future, would you see a slightly smug, self-satisfied ‘ten years better’ version of me? Nope, you’d still find a person who wishes she had yet another ten years practise under her belt.

But I digress. The reason for today’s frustration? Yet again, a fissure has opened up between my ability and my vision. It happens every couple of months, and tends to be a harbinger of a magical time when my ability to put what’s in my head down on paper is about to take a step forward. But it is a painful transition where I’m sometimes caught staring at walls with a slack jaw! I can visualise how I want my work to feel when I look at it. I can ‘see’ some of it, but not the whole. In my minds eye, I can see the sort of techniques I would use and the sort of energy and confidence I’ll have when I can paint it to my satisfaction. But the unborn painting is more of a feeling than a vision.

So I shall continue to play the waiting game. Turn up at the easel every day and work hard. Try not to get so frustrated and be more patient with myself. The funniest thing about these periods of time is that it’s likely nobody else will notice when the tiny new metamorphosis happens. But it will be a big deal to me. I find myself thinking ‘for goodness sakes, get over it Karen!’, but in another way I think the fact that it means so very much to me is what keeps me true to my art. In this state of absorption, ‘ten years better’ will pass in the blink of an eye.

Thanks for listening, friends 😊