Byung Jae Ha

Stripes Korea

USAG DAEGU -- Assume you’re given paper, various materials and tools for watercolor painting, and for one hour you can try and create anything you can imagine. The outcome may be that you can’t seem to make anything happen. So, you continue. You draw some lines, and swing the brush, but even after that, there still doesn’t seem to be any meaningful detail on the paper. The question of what to do next seems to overwhelm you.

If you’re in the USAG Daegu and Area IV vicinity, then Mr. Ha, Byung Jae, a volunteer artist who has been teaching watercolor painting for nearly 10 years at the Camp Walker, Community Activity Center, may have an answer to your problem. “Usually, people find out it is hard to have an idea of what to draw. This is why I give students sketches or rough drawings that I’ve already done for the class. They don’t start not from making a draft, but from coloring sketches,” said Mr. Ha.

Mr. Ha believes that his method is less intimidating—especially for the individual who is not familiar with watercolor painting. He said, “What I do is give the student just a hint as to how he can get started. I ask them what color they are going to use, and then advise them on some possible colors.” With a smile, the teacher admitted that even beginners are inclined to just do what they want to do. On the other hand, he said some are like natural painters…really good.
According to Mr. Ha, there are many variations one can make while painting. “While you’re actually painting -- even in one color there are so many variations you can make. It depends on things like how you touch, and how you mix pigments. It is really fascinating to see the wide spectrum that watercolors can show.”

Kelly Turner is a student of Mr. Ha. She spoke proudly of what she’s learned. “I have really enjoyed the watercolor painting class. Before, I used to paint, but not frequently. So, by painting every Friday, I have had a lot of practice. I can even say that I painted more in last six months, than I did last year. Also, I have met people here who make me enjoy painting more while we share in pleasant talks or discussions.” Turner went on to say that Mr. Ha’s ideas for painting helps her paint a lot better. “He points out things like the shadows here or the lighting there. I didn’t even think about that. So, his help has kept me painting much more-- which makes me happier,” she stated.”

As the interview came to an end, Mr. Ha added, “Our class is not just about pushing to learn how to paint.  It’s not about pushing the student. It’s about them actually enjoying painting.  Students become interested in this art form day by day, and then that interest makes them want to practice, after then it is going to become their hobby. That’s a kind of natural route.” A proud and humble man, Mr. Ha’s love for his talent can be seen in how much he wants to share what he knows with others, and it’s clear he wants to share. To the USAG Daegu and Area IV community he offered, “Please come by, and just walk in the door. That’s everything you need to do for participating in this free watercolor class.”

Story and photo by Pfc. Kim, Si Woong, USAG Daegu Public Affairs Office, (KATUSA)

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