Watercolor Journaling

I’m off on a new adventure: watercolor journaling.

I’ve always loved watercolor paintings. They’re magical; they’re ethereal.  The soft, transparent colors always give me a feeling of peace, a sense of something beyond the image captured. Until recently, however, I’d never tried watercolor painting.

Oh, back in grade school, I had my set of Prang watercolors, of course. They were a standard item on our school supply lists. Opening a new set of paints always gave me a thrill…until I tried to use them. No one ever taught us how to use those little pans of colors, and the only students in my class who ever succeeded in turning out a good watercolor painting were the few who were “gifted” in art. The rest of us ended up with soggy messes of blurred, muddy hues.

I’m all grown up now, my school days are far behind me, and at long last, I’m learning a little about the magical medium of watercolor. Of all the different media I’ve dabbled with, watercolor is by far my favorite. I’m not good at it, but bit by bit I’m catching on. Standing at my easel, practicing brush strokes, seeing a scene emerge before me — all the while playing with all those delightful colors on my palette — is a form of contentment I’ve never experienced before. I want to do a thousand watercolors — all at once. That’s the feeling that surges through me.

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of art books, of course. One that definitely caught my attention is Claudia Nice’s Creating Textured Landscapes with Pen, Ink, and Watercolor. I could look at that book all day! I love it not only for the valuable information it contains, but for all the colorful illustrations. Another gorgeous find was Painting Nature in Watercolor by Cathy Johnson.  But perhaps the one that’s most intrigued me is Anyone Can Learn Watercolor Journaling by Jolyn Parker.

Anyone? Even me? Really?

I want to do this. I’ve wanted to keep an “art journal” for a long time, but my attempts have fallen flat. My quick little scribbles don’t look like much, and even though I thoroughly enjoy browsing through old sketchbooks, I find those few “journal entries” I made very dull. A gesture drawing of a woman I saw at a nearby Chinese restaurant. A few raindrops added to a page to note the weather. A quick sketch of a building exterior.

None of these things really have any great meaning for me, and in addition to being insignificant bits of my boring life, the drawings themselves look boring. Yes, I know. I should get out more often. I should go more places and do more things.

I will be doing that now. Our cold Midwest winter is giving away to spring, jonquils and daffodils are popping up, and flowering trees are bursting forth in masses of glorious color. I ordered a Sakura Koi Watercolor Field kit — it will be here tomorrow — and I’m looking forward to spending mornings at the city park, looking out over the lake, painting the geese, the flowers, the grass, the insects.

Strathmore Visual Journal
With spring approaching, I’m set to begin my first watercolor journal.

So, what better time to begin a watercolor journal? I want a sketchbook filled will bright pages and cheery drawings. I want to put my Pitt Artist Pens and my collection of gel pens to use, too. I want to see flowers blooming in my sketchbook and remember the songs of the birds I paint.

Can I do it? Really? Jolyn Parker says “Yes.” She says anyone can learn watercolor journaling. I hope she’s right. I’m excited, I’m enthused, and once my little field kit arrives, I’ll be ready. Oh, I’ve already picked up a Strathmore Visual Journal for Watercolor.

I hope you’ll join me on this new pathway of my journey.




  1. Hi, I’m just starting with watercolor as well. I am an acrylic girl but I love the softness of watercolor. I still have not gotten used to the color moving around so much when water is added. I look forward to practicing more with watercolor. I have not seen a watercolor visual journal like the one you showed above. I have only seen the Mixed Media Visual Journals. Nice to know someone on the same page as me. Thanks for posting this.


    1. Thanks for visiting. I’m loving watercolor but still having problems figuring it all out. I started learning to draw last June, and am just starting out on watercolor — no previous painting experience whatsoever. It’s quite an adventure. I bought my watercolor journal at Hobby Lobby. You can order them from Amazon, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oooh! Exciting! Maybe I’ll try this, too! Every summer, I spend an hour or so in the garden each morning–one summer, I made pencil sketches. A few years, pastels. Could this be the year of the watercolor? Might be fun!

    Liked by 1 person

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