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  • Sheryl Brake

The Art of Life-Long Learning

They say we are all life-long learners. As humans we have a natural curiosity that keeps us learning. I am no exception, for sure. Whether deciding to pick up my guitar again, challenging myself on a stand-up paddle board (SUP) or continuing to grow as an artist, I have a passion for personal growth. I recently participated in a couple of watercolor workshops, Watercolor Live and a workshop put on by ArtEast Ottawa and artist Brittney Tough.

WaterColor Live was a three-day, world-wide event hosted online featuring some of the world's most prolific professional watercolor artists. I watched intently and painted along as best I could with the artists. I painted loose watery washes, some of my first portraits in watercolor, and tried new techniques. At the end of every nine-hour day of presentations I was thoroughly exhausted, yet excited about all that I had learned and how I would incorporate these techniques into my art going forward.

Below are some of photos of completed (top 3) and in process (bottom 3) paintings from some of the demonstrations. Each of the demonstrations pushed me out of my comfort zone using technique, color and subject matter. Even the 3 portraits were done using entirely different styes. Pretty cool!

What do you think? Do you see a style that resonates with you?

The latest workshop, I took was with artist Brittney Tough of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Brittney is a spectacular still life artist with a focus on still life paintings of textiles. This workshop focused on the painting of a brightly colored Hudson Bay blanket and was a little bit more in my comfort zone.

I enjoy learning new approaches that challenge the way I approach projects. For example, in this instance all of the shadow colors were painted in first as an initial glaze. I usually wait until the very end to paint in all of my shadow colors. So, this challenged my thinking - in a good way. The other thing I learned was the benefit of using fully saturated colors. This lessens the number of glazes to complete a painting! This is a real time saver, especially for slow painters like me. Below are some photos of the various stages of this painting.

I still have some finishing touches to put on the painting, but I can't believe how much I learned from this workshop.

I have come to the conclusion that I will probably never stop learning. There are benefits to learning something new every day - intellectually, socially, spiritually and cognitively. Intellectually, I have expanded my knowledge and skillset as an artist, cognitively challenged my brain to plan my paintings strategically, made some amazing new artist friends and continued to feed my soul.

So, I encourage you to feed your curiosity. Go ahead challenge your mind, spirit and soul by learning something new. There are plenty of resources out there - YouTube, apps and websites, community colleges and resources. Get hungry and in the words of Mahatma Gandhi,

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."


While these pieces won't be for sale, you can find original watercolor paintings, prints and even gift certificates in my shop.

Interested in a custom piece? Commission me to create a piece just for you.


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