• Your Signature Style
  • Jean Burman
Your Signature Style

 Watercolour [detail] © Jean Burman 2016

I was remembering the other day how happy I was when I first started painting in watercolour and how much I had loved Jeanne Dobie’s watercolours. Her simple clarity of shape and use of octanic colour captured my heart completely.

I remember taking her book Making Color Sing to my autocratic art teacher at the time and how crestfallen I had been when she stonewalled me with “that’s all well and good but sometimes you can have too much information”

I looked at her in wide-eyed astonishment [discouraging art teachers… I have known some!]  I mean … how could there ever be too much information about something as complex as watercolour?

That’s not to say watercolour should look complex. In fact the best thing about Jeanne’s work was and continues to be the simplicity she effortlessly portrays in her work. To me that’s true mastery. She makes what is not easy look easy and only the best can do that.

My rule of thumb has always been that if you look at a watercolour and say “wow I could do that” it’s a pretty safe bet that this is a painting you could never replicate. Yes you might get all the elements just right but the original magic will almost certainly be missing.

But why would you want to replicate it anyway?  What drew you to it was your own inspiration. You just have to find your own style.

You can’t inject that certain je ne sais quoi into watercolour or anything else you decide to do in your life … unless you know what you are trying to do… and can find your own way of doing it. Anything else is copybook or paint by numbers and is probably not worth doing.

You just have to be your own gorgeous self. You’re the only one who can!

Your brand of genius is magnificent. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise [and trust me they WILL try to tell you otherwise].  That’s when you have to be strong in what you know to be true… about you… and what you do.

LEAVE A NOTE [this little painting jumped out of my paintbox yesterday… I imagined her ... so any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental] ;) 

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  • Jean Burman

Comments on this post ( 4 )

  • Jun 10, 2016

    Well said, as usual Miss Burman! Jeanne Dobie was one of my early inspirations as well. She made me want to paint, and now she makes me want to inspire others. The lady is a gift, as are you. Cheers! ;)

    — Paul jackson

  • Jun 10, 2016

    Gosh thanks for that lovely compliment Paul [you made me smile ear to ear and blush a bit too … let’s not forget the blush] ;) haha

    Jeanne’s been such an inspiration to so many watercolour artists. Her book [the bible] is still one of my favourites [along with yours of course] they go wherever I go.

    Thanks so much for stopping by x

    — Jean

  • Jun 12, 2016

    I received this nice message from a friend in France. I thought he mightn’t mind me posting it here to add to the discussion ?

    " Ullo ullo jeanne – I think Dobie could mean that at a certain point one gets bogged down in the information, and then it’s time to put the info aside and trust that it will percolate while the cretive springs bubble. She is also the first instructor I colected many years ago – I always remember the painting she did of the refirgerator somewhere, and of course the one with the hammock swing and figure? her studies of values and changing patterns, looking at the negative; all great stuff. I appreciate your photos of your voyages "

    — Bill

  • Jun 12, 2016

    ah that’s nice Bill [so great to hear from you btw] It was actually my autocratic art teacher who told me “too much information” I got where she was coming from but I suspect it was all too much information for her. In the end she used to just say to me “just do what you do… I can’t do that” which is my point here I guess haha. Everyone has to do what they do. I think our style is in our DNA it’s like our fingerprint or our signature.

    I adored Jeanne Dobie … still do. She just sparked something in me I couldn’t put out. I loved that refrigerator painting! It’s still one of my very favourite JD’s. I also loved the story of how the workshop participants all went outside to find the perfect subject and Jeanne just took to the backroom and found the fridge! She can make magic out of anything. So great to hear from you! Love to Corinne and the all the gang at LVC. Love that place. Miss you all x

    — Jean

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