Calvin deRuyter


I went on an “art crawl” a few years ago. An artist who also worked in watercolor asked, “and what kind of art do you do?” So, I explained that I worked in watercolor, that I tend to be a colorist, and that I tend to be impressionistic…, BUT that I painted directly on the surface from the tube, rarely left any white on the paper, and tended to “scrub” my paint with harder bristle brushes to mix all of my paint on the surface I am working on. Her response was, “then you really aren’t doing watercolors, are you?” After a moment, I simply responded, “If I use nothing but watercolor pigments in my work, why would I not be ‘doing’ watercolors?”

But, the truth is, I am an artist first, and a painter second. I just happen to use watercolor pigment as my medium of choice. The joy of my creativity is in the exploration (the outer boundaries) of the medium and the expression of mood which I can obtain through working with color. Many reduce the medium to a craft, evidenced by the hundreds and hundreds of “how to” books in watercolor. We have perpetuated the idea that if you learn to “leave the white”, know how to glaze, how to get just the right value, or follow this certain “formula”, etc. you can do great watercolors. But, while some guidelines can be useful at times, art is not the expression of technical expertise. Art is the expression of how the artists not only sees, but how the artist feels about the world around him/her. And, painting watercolors is not about the proper glazing or the white of the paper! After spending years learning all of the rules, I finally learned the “truth” for me: paint with joy and energy…. ALLOWING the painting to be expressed.