I have a renewed sense of energy around my watercolor practice right now. Let me tell you why and share my top 5 reasons to give watercolor a try!
Sometimes I forget that I’m paying for a monthly membership to Creativebug. When I remember, I jump onto the site to see if there is a class I might want to take. I totally lucked out earlier this month while searching through the “dailies”. “Dailies” are what Creativebug calls daily challenges.
I found an old class by Yao Cheng, a watercolor artist who lives in Ohio. The class involves painting watercolor flowers for 31 days.
These classes are fun because the videos are super short, usually between 5 - 8 minutes, and the instructors quickly demonstrate the task for the day.
I’ve been following along for the last 10 days or so. Here is what I have created so far.
I used several of these pieces to create beautiful, unique Mother’s Day cards for all the Moms around me last week. I love to make handmade cards and it's especially sweet if I can include some of my own artwork in the process.
I hope you read and enjoyed last week's blog where I shared a free tutorial on how to make these cards and included a free download of one of my watercolor florals for you to use.
If you have been following my blog, you’ll know that I’m also participating in the 100 Day Project right now. We’re at day 40, or thereabouts. I started the challenge with a daily commitment of doing 20 minutes of sketching.
That morphed, about a week into the challenge, into watercolor work and short videos of my work in progress. I’ve included a popular one that’s received over 100 views on my IG account. You can follow me @annelafolletteart.
I used to find watercolor super intimidating but here are the top 5 reasons to try it!
Okay. It’s very “me” to start with something practical. Watercolor is super portable which means you can take it with you everywhere. All you need is a small sketchbook filled with watercolor paper, a few brushes, a small set of tubes or a small pan set and a small jar of water.
Winsor & Newton has lovely tiny watercolor pan sets in specific color ranges that are already designed to work together. I’m currently using a tiny set with 12 colors and it’s the cutest thing. It’s only 5 by 2.5 inches!
I alternate between a 5 by 5 square sketchbook or a 5 by 7 version. Both are easy to carry and hardly take up any space at all. My go to brushes are size 12 and size 6 rounds that give me plenty of flexibility.
Variety of Color
With just a small number of colors, you can create an amazing variety of color. One of the warm-up exercises I do with students is to create 5 different shades using just one color.
Sketch out 5 long rectangles in pen or pencil on a piece of watercolor paper and pick a color. Fill each rectangle with a different shade of that color by adding more and more water to your brush. Start with the darkest shade by adding a lot of pigment to your brush. Then dip your brush into water to dilute the color slightly for the next shade. Keep dipping into the water to dilute the color further until you achieve the lightest shade to fill the last rectangle.
Mixing colors allows an infinite variety of color options which just reinforces the fact that you don’t need a ton to start with.
For example, I paint florals a lot. I’m always experimenting with different shades of greens for the stems and leaves by adding yellows for lighter hues or a touch of black for a deeper shade.
Different Zone of Creativity
I believe that the act of painting takes you into a different sphere of creativity than other creative exercises. When I’m painting, my level of concentration is different. It’s hard to explain and I wouldn’t say it’s a deeper level of concentration, necessarily. It’s just different.
Maybe the coordination required with the brush and the variety of strokes has something to do with it. Or perhaps it’s the combination of applying the colors and the color choices themselves. I’m not sure but I love the sense of timelessness that occurs when I’m painting.
I’d love to hear what you think about this particular topic!
Play time for YOU
Taking time for yourself is SO IMPORTANT. Setting up and getting started on a watercolor project takes no time at all. It's accessible and fun and grants you space to play. Just grab your supplies and a jar of water and you are ready to jump in.
I love the simplicity and ease of set up because there are virtually no barriers to just “doing”. And for me, it’s really PLAY TIME because I’m never trying to replicate something exactly. In my floral work, I’m using my imagination as much as any reference, if I have a reference at all.
Also, since I’m a neat freak, I appreciate how easy it is to clean up! I work at my kitchen table and need to put everything away so the table is neat and tidy before dinnertime. Watercolor clean up takes no time at all – a simple rinse of the brushes and water jar and you're DONE!
Most of all, I love the “happy surprises” that happen with watercolor. Sometimes I’ll find myself in the middle of a piece and I’ll be thinking: “gees, this is awful. It’s not turning out at all the way I expected.” But then, I’ll add one more element, or an area where I mixed colors will continue to expand and bloom and all of a sudden something totally new appears that was unexpected.
Or I’ll stop working on a piece, not completely satisfied with how it turned out. I’ll come back when it’s completely dry and be happily surprised with the final result. I really never know what the end result will be and the surprise factor is a delight for me!
I hope my top 5 reasons encourage YOU to try watercolor or pick it up again if you haven’t done much watercolor work recently. It’s a joyful adventure each and every time.
Finally, if you’d like some help to get you started, I teach Beginning Watercolor on Skillshare. Just click HERE or on BEGINNING WATERCOLOR to access my private link to the class. You’ll receive 2 FREE months of membership if you join Skillshare through my private link.
Remember, It’s Never Too Late To Create.
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What are you struggling with most in your art practice right now? Email me at email@example.com and let me know!