“While oil paintings tend to be novels or even essays, good watercolors are lyrical–poetry.” – Jacki Kellum


 “What is essential is invisible to the eye.” – The Fox from The Little Prince

In college, I was essentially paid to pursue a masters degree in English [I was given grants for my work]; and my efforts were focused on William Blake and on writing.  Yet, I most wanted to be a painter. [It is interesting that Blake both wrote and illustrated his work and Antoine de Saint Exupery {The Little Prince} did, too.]  Therefore, while in graduate school, studying English and taking the full course load [after that, any other courses were free], I also pursued a masters degree in painting.  I did not complete the masters degree in painting until several years later; but after college, all of my teaching jobs were in visual art.  William Blake and his literary buddies were shelved  for decades, until earlier this month; but the tenets of Blake’s works have stayed with me. Even while teaching art [visual art] in schools, I always pursued its dual nature–one of technique and one of the Spirit.  I have always endeavored to teach the whole person and not merely the hands.  To help my students think about what they are doing–on a deeper level, I ask them to write about their art.  This forces them to shift into a deeper gear.  I want my students to Think and to Feel and not merely to do handiwork.  In trying to explain the differences between the two [for the tutorial that I began creating through this blog], I have had to revisit William Blake. When I began blogging about William Blake, I absolutely did not expect anyone to read what I was writing.  I was merely trying to “spell it out” again–for myself.  Surprisingly to me, the bulk of my readers have been reading what I have written about Blake.  They are literature people.  Again, the blog tutorial that I have been composing is primarily thrust toward the visual artist; yet, from the start I have called it: “Fast Track to Becoming Your Artist Within“–rather than How to Paint or How to Draw.  Once more: My intention is to cultivate the entire Arts processes. The entire package is necessary to achieve lyricism. I have always said that while oil paintings tend to be novels or even essays, good watercolors are lyrical–they are poetry.  Like poetry itself, good watercolors are distillations of the Spirit–they are Essences; and Essences resist the temptation of providing “Too Much Information.”

      “What delights us in visible beauty is the invisible.” – Marie von Ebner Eschenbach

Beyond achieving a lyrical painting quality, connecting to one’s Essence is essential for another reason:  the Essence is the key to unlock one’s Intuition — another tool essential for the visual Artist–artist with a capital “A”–the “Big A Artist”–as opposed to the little “a” artisan.  The intuition is a force that seems to guide the Artist’s hand; it seems to urge the Artist onward; it seems to make choices along the way; it seems to speak to the Artist, if the Artist is listening  or feeling or sensing.

Michelangelo alluded to this intuition in saying that his sculptures lay within the rock–and that what he saw in the rock–or sensed through the rock–is what directed his chiseling.

I can honestly say that when I am truly painting [this definitely is not every time I paint or draw], I feel that same type of intuition pulling my hand and making my marks for me.  My years of training as an expressionistic painter no doubt helps, too; a good expressionist is led by that same intuition. In order to be able to make these intuitive marks and brush strokes, we must listen to a Source deep within ourselves–Far From the Maddening Crowd. William Blake’s work called humanity to that Source, which he called the Imagination.  Lao Tzu called humanity to that Source, which he called the Way; [but he did so with the disclaimer that the Way could not actually be named–it was beyond obvious labels]; other Eastern voices call humanity to the Soul.  Regardless of what this quality is called, it is the same–it is the Essence of the Spirit; and it is the Ox and Cart that carries all authentic ART.

In summary, in order to move beyond that of being an artisan–doing handiwork, one must connect to his Essence, Way, Source, Spirit, Soul, etc., to achieve the following:

 1.  Lyricism in painting and drawing

2.  Intuition – A force that pulls your hand along


2 thoughts on ““While oil paintings tend to be novels or even essays, good watercolors are lyrical–poetry.” – Jacki Kellum

    1. My very favorite oil painters are Dutch — Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Frans Hals — I love their bravura. My work is a combination of lyricism and bravura–when at its best.


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