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,
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.’