Wyatt Waters, artist and author of
Wyatt Waters, artist and author of "The Watercolor Road"

The following is an excerpt from the new book about plein air painting on the road, “The Watercolor Road: Painting and Writing through the American South” by Wyatt Waters.

Essay: Taking Care of Your Artistic Self Is Your Responsibility

By Wyatt Waters

No one else will do it for you. At the most critical junctures, few, and sometimes no one, will believe in you enough to support what you know you must do. But I don’t think faith is knowing 100%. It’s more the kind of knowing one has when hitting a tennis ball and knowing it will hit its mark. It is still and small.

For me, faith is having to act despite my doubts. The unsupportive may be well-intended friends or family members. They don’t mean any harm—but they might not get it. And, maybe, even I don’t have the absolute certainty to do what I know I need to do either. It is especially hard to have popular support for something you also know you shouldn’t be doing. Getting approval for doing the wrong thing is not good. The devil is not an ugly monster, leering and pulling me toward something bad. The devil is pretty attractive and tells me easy answers that may be problems waiting to happen. The devil doesn’t want me to be me.

Everyone has doubt. Most of us would love to have the certainty of clear-cut answers mapped out for us. But for me, the core of the answer is mostly based on listening inside. It feels right. It doesn’t feel right. Logic only goes so far.

Wyatt Waters, "Mobile Home," Mobile, Alabama, 2022, plein air
Wyatt Waters, “Mobile Home,” Mobile, Alabama, 2022, plein air

A financial advisor was talking to me about a money decision I was to make. The advisor asked, “Why do you pay me for advice if you don’t take it?” To which I replied, “If we were to go back to when I was deciding to do this for a living, you wouldn’t have advised that either.” Don’t get me wrong, hearing advice is good, but never undervalue a genuine feeling about something. There is a moment of truth for everyone. Even painters.

Then, there are those rare people who believe in you. Sometimes, it can be only one person. That is a person who loves you and you need to value that person.

Wyatt Waters, "Forsyth's 2020," Savannah, Georgia, 2021, plein air
Wyatt Waters, “Forsyth’s 2020,” Savannah, Georgia, 2021, plein air

I’m going to drink my coffee, try to make better choices, and go paint. I’ve been a little off lately, and I need to sharpen. No one makes you do it. Some people are even irritated by you doing it.

Do it anyway.

Wyatt Waters, "My Fellow Americans," Plains, Georgia, 2022, plein air
Wyatt Waters, “My Fellow Americans,” Plains, Georgia, 2022, plein air

Learn more about “The Watercolor Road: Painting and Writing through the American South” by Wyatt Waters and get your copy here.

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