From Italy to France, to ... Wodonga.
Here on the NSW/Victoria border we were treated to rare insight into the workings of a world-famous watercolour genius, as Terry Jarvis made a splash at the Albury Wodonga Artists' Society gallery on the Causeway, leading a group of eager artists (and me) in the ebb and flow of watercolour mastery (well, not so much me).
I've always loved art and in recent years, I have explored watercolour through abstract painting (i.e., making it up as I go along with neither form nor composition). So, this year, Mum booked us both spots in Terry Jarvis' watercolour workshop as my birthday present, assuring me that she was very inexperienced, and we could muddle through together. I'd never tried an art workshop before, but who's going to turn down two days of self-care art therapy? Not me, that's for sure.
Every now and then, you come across a person who is just a natural teacher. Someone who is able to make learning fun, freeing and differentiated - Terry is one of them. I don't know how he managed it, but he was able to cater for both the highly experienced watercolourists in the room and the embarrassingly novice ones (me) alike.
The explosions of paint on the page - complete with sound effects - showed the courage it takes to back yourself when making big changes to the work in front of you, and the broad-applicability of that lesson was not lost on me.
I took so much away from the workshop last weekend. First and foremost, I have no idea how to paint in watercolour. But that's OK. If Terry Jarvis can stand in front of us and say that he is still learning, experimenting and playing with new techniques, then I'm fairly certain that I can suck up feelings of total ineptitude and splash some French ultramarine blue on the page.
I also learned that I didn't know what I didn't know. That sounds stupid now I've said it out loud (sort of). But stupid or no, it's true. I honestly thought I'd learned my colours before I hit kindergarten.
Turns out, I barely knew the basics. This was possibly the greatest learning curve for me. I was fascinated by the way Terry selected and mixed the colours to create different textures, shadows, tones and shades - I had to unlearn and then relearn so much.
I've always made grey by mixing black and white. But you have so much more control when you do it "properly" (by mixing the three primary colours), and the shades you can make ... I had no idea how many shades there could be.
Terry's humility made feeling completely inept less confronting. He was a gentle teacher, with a kind word for everyone, insightful comments and one-on-one demonstrations as well as group teaching sessions.
His lovely wife, Michelle, popped in throughout both days, with words of encouragement as well and it was lovely to get to know them both throughout the weekend. You would honestly never know that Terry was known the world over for his work, that paint company founded in 1832,
Winsor and Newton (only the paints Edvard Munch used in his famous painting, The Scream), have commissioned his work and gifted him the Rolls Royce of paint brushes with his name etched in gold on the handle, and he has been invited to exhibit far and wide.
His love for his craft was first and foremost and he took to the page with the exuberance and passion of an eight-year-old kid painting aeroplanes and cars.
His enthusiasm was contagious.
Perhaps this was the most important thing I learned over the weekend; that loving what you do, finding the courage to pursue your dreams, regardless of what the naysayers try and plant into your mind, and backing yourself even in the midst of a dearth of supporters (especially then), is the most important thing you can do.
They all said he couldn't work full time as an artist when he was a young man. They all said he needed a "real" job.
Terry proved them all wrong before he was 30 and along the way, not only has he shared his gift with others through his paintings, but through teaching, encouraging and inspiring others at every skill level, to back themselves and always find the courage to pick up the brush.