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the 5th variable




The gift of Tom Hoffmann, my watercolor teacher, describes and introduces to his students the 4 variables of watercolor:

color, value, wetness and composition.

However, I have found another.

This new variable came to me as I was practicing another master’s work, Michael Reardon and this notion came to me as I was discovering a beautiful composition he created, plein air and had posted on his facebook page. Again, I created the value study upside down and then, right side up, I created a small color view.

Finally, I increased the size of the painting, further challenging my ‘watercolor technique.’

I am always trying to get inside the artist’s head, their thinking; most importantly, what were they feeling?




There it is. The 5th variable: sense of place! 

As I wrote in my book about Italy:

With each drawing, I can remember the exact moment in time and place for each of these views. I can remember what I was feeling.

I can remember the weather. I remember the coffee taste and delicious wafts of scent from the nearby restaurants. I remember the wind blowing on my face. Those bells were ringing. I feel it all. I remember the challenge of drawing the view, replicating all the beauty and emotion contained in the view and simulated in a few pencil strokes. I remember the approach and the questions. That moment lives in me. I turn the numerous pages in the sketchbook and I say,

‘I remember.’

That 5th variable of ‘place’ is the clue to the ‘ta-da’ of the final work. You see, Michael created this in a place, PT. Reyes.

My job now is to go there and place in those evocative strokes that are most meaningful to me as I ‘sense the place.’

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. carol #

    Anita, Point Reyes is my son David’s favorite place! He and his wife Rachel had their wedding ceremony on McClure Beach on the seashore there. Our family has been there multiple times…our granddaughter practiced taking her first steps in a sandbox in the little park in the town of Pt. Reyes…our grandson’s middle name is McClure because this awesome place has special meaning.

    May 7, 2014

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