Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Dr. Joel C. Moss
The problem of the modern artist is not intrinsically different from that of the artist of any age. While men of science seek to break the physical bounds in which our world is confined to seek new life in the seemingly infinite reaches of space, the artist will seek to find his own window looking up on the infinite. This piercing through the dark is not a matter for consideration of the artist alone. His must be the gift of light to all mankind. Yet, in his search for truth and beauty, the artist is confronted with a number of problems which make necessary a wide variety of choices and decisions on his part. One of the most important of these decisions is the choice of a medium in which to clothe his ideas. This choice will in turn depend on several factors. One of the most pertinent of these is the artist’s own temperament and method of working. The choice of watercolor as a medium was, on my part, at first a matter of expedience; it seemed best suited to the conditions under which I should have to perform as a student of art. But almost with the first brushful of color, the challenge of watercolor as an expressive medium became apparent. After that experience there was no turning back. To use watercolor effectively as an expressive medium I have found that, performance is necessary preliminary to the actual painting. This includes much sketching, planning, and thinking. The conceptual idea of the picture I am about to paint lives with me, and I with it in a sort of communion. Finally there comes a day and an h our when the vision can begin to take shape on the paper. I say begin, because the idea does not often emerge clearly at the first painting. The search may lead to another and better idea, or the first vision may be lost in the clutter, to be vaguely visible, only to be clarified later. The subject may be something near at hand: white roses, a weed, a bit of grass, or the city on a rainy night. The subject may be compounded of many experiences such as the daily mystery of the setting sun. What is pictured is not so much what has been seen as what has been conceived. A painting of a tree does not merely represent a tree; it more nearly represents all trees and the elements of birth and growth, of conflict and conquest, of life and death which are present in all creation, and especially in the life of man. After all preparations have been made, the actual painting of the picture becomes a matter of instantaneous decisions in which quick brush strokes are applied to the paper. Indeed, it is this urgency of execution which constitutes the real challenge of using watercolor as an expressive medium. Even if preliminary sketching on the paper has been done, there is a host of decisions to be made in the flick of an eye as the work progresses. This necessity points up an unending quest. When there is no longer any impetus to search, when the artist's technique has congealed into a formula, when he thinks he has produced the perfect picture, then it is time for the painter to look within himself. His life as an artist has come to an end.
Copyright 1965 Sister Mary Luke Shouse
Shouse, Mary Luke, "Watercolor as a Medium of Creative Expression" (1965). Master's Theses. 941.