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by Thomas W. Schaller. 
> You can purchase a copy at 
artistsnetwork.com/store or 
from your favorite bookseller.
Today, there are still so many artists who are terribly concerned with 
the “rules” of watercolor. I’d never dismiss purists or traditionalists; they 
have valid priorities. But I’m no purist. I only hope that any of the self-
imposed rules to which we all adhere aren’t allowed to supersede the mes-
sage of the art they’re meant to support.
“Just paint.”
If any two words have altered my life more than this, I can’t imagine what 
they are. Words have great power if only we can learn to hear them, let 
them motivate us and give us strength.
h e great visionary Buckminster Fuller addressed one of my classes 
when I was far too simple to grasp much of anything he had to of er. Near 
the end of his talk, however, he said something that has stayed with me 
always. To paraphrase: “I believe that people are capable of doing most 
anything they want to do. h e problem is that most never take the time or 
make the ef ort to i gure out what the hell that is. Don’t worry so much 
about i nding ‘success.’ Just i nd something you truly love to do—and go 
out in the world and do it. Success will i nd you.” 
As I remember, he then just seemed to walk of stage quietly. I sat 
upright, and knew enough to realize he had said something worth hear-
ing. But the answer wouldn’t come until 2010, when I took a watercolor 
ArtistsNetwork.com 47
workshop with the one and only Joseph Zbukvic. I had admired him for so 
long and was thrilled to have a chance to paint with and learn from him. 
Never would I aspire to paint like him (who could?), but I did hope to watch 
him paint, to listen to him and to learn a little about how someone managed 
to live as an artist in a world such as ours.
One night after class, Zbukvic asked me what my aspirations were. I 
briel y told him my story and that I hoped to see myself as an artist one day. 
“h en why not?” he said. After quietly listening to me make excuses for 10 
minutes, he just shrugged and said, “Well, if you want to be a painter, just 
paint. h e rest will take care of itself.”
At the time I just thought, “Hmm, easy for him to say.” But I hadn’t really 
understood. In time, I’d i gure out that he simply meant that if there’s any-
thing you really want to do in this life, do it. Don’t make excuses. If some-
thing is really important to you, you’ll i nd a way to make it happen. And so, 
bit by bit, my life changed—from the inside out. And every day since, those 
words are more and more true. 
“Inspiration is for amateurs. 
The rest of us just show up 
and get to work.”
h ere’s truth in that. We never pro-
duce or improve if we don’t put in
the time and do the work. Simply put, 
painters paint. I like the way Close 
demystii es the act of painting. He 
doesn’t back away or romanticize, and 
he manages it without stripping any 
life or joy from the actual art itself. 
He knows the truth about embracing 
life as an artist. It’s simply what he is, 
what he does. 
It’s a hopeless waste of time to sit 
around wondering who we are or what 
we should do. Somewhere inside, I 
know, even if I’m stuck, that I always 
have something to paint. But this 
isn’t always entirely clear unless I’m 
working in the studio. If I just start 
sketching, something always reveals 
itself. Is it going to be good? We’ll see. 
h e process is key. I believe in inspira-
tion, but inspiration without action is 
insui cient. In the end, it’s better just 
to get busy. WA
Enter to win! 
Send us an email at wcamag@fwmedia.
com sharing the advice you’ve received 
about watercolor painting that has had 
the most impact on you and your art. Be 
sure to include “Painting Advice” in the 
subject line. The “editor’s choice” will 
receive a copy of the new book, Thomas 
W. Schaller, Architect of Light. The entry 
deadline is October 15, 2018. 
Night in the City, NYC 
(watercolor on paper, 30x22)
(watercolor on paper, 18x24)
48 Watercolor artist | OCTOBER 2018
Abstract Artistry
ArtistsNetwork.com 49
By Louise B. Hafesh
ary Ann Beckwith i nds a lot to 
love about abstraction. “Much like 
solving a puzzle, I’m always experi-
menting with textures and 
material to see what visually stim-
ulating ef ects I can create,” says the watermedia 
artist. Despite being schooled in the traditional 
aspects of classical drawing, painting and design, 
Beckwith enjoys the freedom and challenges pre-
sented by exploring non-representational design 
elements and color. 
“Motivation to change and grow is part of my 
nature,” says the veteran professor and workshop 
instructor. “I always want to i nd ways to improve 
and grow in my work, and I consistently encourage 
my students to move forward and embrace change 
and evolution.”
Evolution in Genre 
Beckwith says that her own style progression from 
classical to abstraction began during her college 
years when she studied painting and drawing at 
Marygrove College, in Detroit. “During lectures, 
I’d subconsciously allow lines, shapes and patterns 
to i ll in my notes as I sat in class,” she recalls. 
“I liked the results and began to think of ways
I might use those doodles in my work.” 
Later, Beckwith would encounter the art of 
experimental painters Virginia Cobb, Louise 
Cadillac and Maxine Masteri eld, and become 
more acquainted with the work of modern abstract 
painters such as Paul Jenkins, Jackson Pollock and 
Piet Mondrian. “Enchanted, I spent a lot of time 
searching for my favorite painters and signed up 
for workshops with the best professional artists
in the country, which were, by far, the richest 
and most diverse training experiences for me,” 
[watercolor on 
YUPO, 22x30] was 
the fi rst in a series 
of paintings that 
I created as 
memorials to
lost loved ones,” 
Beckwith says. “Each 
piece holds symbols 
representing the 
person I cherished. 
In Monument, I was 
also working toward 
creating larger, 
textured color fi elds 
in my work.”
50 Watercolor artist | OCTOBER 2018
• Liquid Watercolors by 
Robert Doak: azo yellow 
medium, phthalo 
turquoise, quinacridone 
magenta, transparent red 
oxide and titanium white; 
American Journey acrylic 
paint by Cheap Joe’s
• YUPO; Arches 140-lb. 
• Cheap Joe’s Pseudo 
Squirrel, Scroggy’s Loose 
Goose Dagger Striper, 
Lizard’s Lick and Fitch 
• spray bottles; Paint Easy 
by Wagner’s to dilute the 
paint and condition the 
flow of the spray; various 
materials for imprinting 
“I used a new painting approach 
to make A Most Delicate Balance 
[watercolor on YUPO, 30x22],” 
says the artist. “I fi rst painted the 
whites onto a piece of YUPO, and 
then used the paper like a stamp 
to transfer the white paint onto my 
Leap of Faith (watercolor on 
YUPO, 22x30) is another in a series 
of personal tributes to honor 
departed friends and family.
she says. “I learned tricks that I could 
share with my students and ways to 
make them more excited about art. 
h ese experts with whom I studied 
provided a vast and varied range of 
arts perspective and knowledge, and I 
was exposed to tools that would lead 
me to the techniques I use today.” 
Developing a 
New Skill Set 
In college, the focus had been on 
drawing precisely and with observa-
tion and clarity. A dif erent criteria 
and skill set came into play as 
Beckwith began to experiment with 
expression and abstraction. Still, as a 
testament to her classical training, 
she hastens to point out that her 
approach isn’t accidental. “I plan 
ahead,” she says, “often with a precon-
ceived concept. But once I begin, I do 
let the individual needs of each paint-
ing inl