Poem: Watercolors Over Oil

Watercolors Over Oil

It is one of my earliest paintings.
A watercolor. I can remember painting it,
unsure of what I was doing or why,
trying to capture a mood. Unsure
until I was done whether I was on the right path
or not.

That’s what I remember, the feeling.
The uncertainty. Half melancholy,
half excitement. Learning but at the same time
not wanting to fail.

A decade later, I am a bit more certain
with my brush strokes. A bit more skilled.
I have some understanding of color and line
and my tools. I waste a lot less paper.

But I have a restlessness, a tendency to wander,
to push myself into ideas and the trying of things
that leave me, still, uncertain,
and that feeling comes back. Again and again.

Tempered a bit by a lifetime of failure
somehow made right, or
not mattering the day after.
I can never rid myself of the feeling,
but it dries faster, like watercolors
over oil, I am not better,
just different.

About this poem

The painting is called “Cold Rain” and it is indeed one of my first watercolors painted after I had discovered an artistic “voice”. All the feelings are real.

But the poem was inspired by a messy mistake-laden day yesterday and feeling that same feeling. Poetry, and perhaps art, abstract art at least, are never about one thing.


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