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Accepting Imperfections - In Art, In Nature, In Yourself Brings Contentment

Updated: Feb 23, 2020

Do you cockle?

In Art: Cockle is the rippling of the paper

Although "cockle" sounds like something a rooster crows about, it's actually a watercolor term. When water and paint are applied to watercolor paper moisture absorbs into the fibers causing it to expand and ripple, or more commonly known as cockle. Even a high-quality, thick watercolor paper can buckle unless the artist stretches the paper prior to painting.

Often the cockling of the paper is more pronounced when the piece is framed. You may notice the watercolor paper ripple along the straight edge of the mat board. In the photo below, the shadow along the edge of the white mat board is from the natural cockling in the watercolor paper.

Original watercolor with red line indicating cockling along mat board edge.

Although the mat board may draw attention to the cockling, the mat has an important feature which is to keep the art from touching the glass. When art is placed directly against glass there is a risk of moisture, and even mold, collecting on the painting.

To me, the cockling of the watercolor paper is its beauty. I have learned to appreciate the natural elements of paper and embrace it.

In nature:

Embracing imperfections goes beyond art.

In nature, I'm inspired by the birch tree whose craggy bark is filled with imperfections. The raw and craggy textures of the birch adds interest and character, making it unique. Special.

Beyond the birch tree, are the natural elements of stones, like marble and granite, whose one-of-a-kind beauty is found in the pits and fissures.

These imperfections in minerals enhance the interest in the surface, yet they don’t impair its durability or functionality. Each piece  is valuable because of its different patterns and textures. 

In yourself:

What is more natural than you?

Welcome imperfections, we all have them, so embrace your individuality and uniqueness.

lf you embrace them, others will smile at them, too.

As the laugh lines grow deeper on my aging face, I make sure to look in the mirror when the lights are low. In the dim setting, my husband chuckles at me when I respond: “Doesn’t everyone look younger in a darken room?”

Then I laugh, too, because like the imperfections in the birch tree bark and the cockle of watercolor paper, I’ve earned every one of these “natural” wrinkles loving life. Haven’t you?

Related: My career began as a registered nurse. Yet, like most of you, it has been filled with twists and turns. Click her to learn about my memoir: A Lone Birch, My Artistic Journey.


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