Thanks to guest writer Sera Stanton for today’s post.
Terry Street is experienced in both traditional Japanese and Western watercolor painting. Today, she was working in the spontaneous style of Japanese masters. She trained under a master in California and explained how the paintings are “copied” from masters until you perfect the image and can add your own nuances to it. When I spoke to her, Terry was working on an iris.
Terry showed me how she works on both normal drawing paper and on rice paper. “It is all in the energy of the brush,” she said, “the brush does the work for you… and less is more.” There is no going back in traditional Japanese painting. You must think very clearly about where to place your lines and work spontaneously. Like many artists, Terry believes anyone can learn to paint – it’s just a matter of practice, especially in this style.
In order to get a lot of variation, Terry had a large set of brushes. Although she usually only works with one brush at a time, she explained the varying uses of each kind of brush. They were also made out of different hairs, such as horse, otter or badger. To start working, Terry wet her brushes and mixed a few colors of Chinese watercolor. She said that Chinese watercolors are the best for this kind of painting because they have more clay in them, so they don’t run as much when mounted. Using an ink stick, Terry mixed some of her own ink to help mix some darker colors.
Terry’s palette today was “not textbook,” as she put it. She used violet and red and yellow and green to paint beautiful irises and poppies, as well as black to quickly paint a horse before I left. She mixed the smallest amount of each color together to make sure that they were analogous.
When she isn’t painting on her own, Terry teaches classes. She says that she loves children and her students. Terry says that she has been painting her whole life, partially due to the fact that her grandfather collected oriental art. Truly, Terry knows the patience, practice and play that traditional Japanese watercolor requires.
Click on thumbnails to see larger pictures.