I’d have to say that at least half the fun of art comes from experimenting. I love the fact that there aren’t a lot of stuffy rules to follow, and although some rules do exist, we don’t have to follow them. Art is such a personal form of expression that we’re free to do as we please.

I never earned the Dabbler badge, but it inspires me to this day.
I never earned the Dabbler badge, but it inspires me to this day.

Back in my Girl Scout days, I yearned to work on proficiency badges from the “Arts” category, but since I had no artistic ability, all I could do was dream. Even the easiest of the art badges — the Dabbler badge — involved more skill than I possessed.

Oh, but it sounded like so much fun!

Earning the badge required “dabbling” in many different arts and crafts — precisely what I’m doing today. The idea, of course, was for a young girl to explore different media and develop a variety of techniques. From there, she could go on to earn other badges, using those “more specialized” techniques. There was a “Drawing and Painting” badge, a badge for needlework, an advanced “Interior Decorator” badge and many more.

I earned my share of badges, but none from the “Arts and Crafts” fields.

Now that I’m all grown-up, though, what’s stopping me from dabbling around a bit? Nothing at all. Since I’ve learned a few basic drawing skills, the possibilities for dabbling are endless. I’m learning watercolor, pastels — soft pastels, pan pastels, and oil pastels — charcoal, and colored pencils. Soon I’m going to give acrylic painting a try. Look out, art world, here I come!

When it comes to having fun with art, watercolor is definitely the medium I choose. I’m not good at it. I’m still working on basic techniques, and I have a lot to learn. But, no problem. I’m not about to let my lack of “proper technical knowledge” spoil my fun.

I recently did a watercolor painting of a group of lily pads and flowers. To create a “watery effect”, I deliberately let blues and greens run down the page. I thought it might somehow look like drops of water. It didn’t. It only looked like messy background with blues and greens dribbled through it.

Hmm…maybe I confused “dabbling” with “dribbling”. Must be what happened!

My "experimental" background just looks like a mess. Nice idea. Bad execution.
My “experimental” background just looks like a mess. Nice idea. Bad execution.

Of course, it was fun doing it. I had the pleasure of feeling like a “real artist” as I stood at my easel, watching little droplets of color roll down the page. Because this was such a special project, I’d even broken out my new, larger watercolor paper. No more 9 x 12. I needed a bigger playground.

I still like the colors, and maybe I still like the whole crazy idea of a “water-splotched” drawing of lily pads and blossoms. It doesn’t look anything like I imagined it would, but isn’t that what it means to experiment?

Sometimes I think that if I always knew exactly how a watercolor would turn out, it might not be nearly so much fun to do. I will continue working on watercolor skills, and eventually I’ll learn how to apply different techniques, how to create different effects, and how much — or little — water to use. I’ll know all about brushes sizes and types, and in time, my watercolors will begin to look more like they should.

But you know something? Even then, I’m going to look back at my “Water Lilies” and smile. I might even frame it and put it in my art room as a reminder to always keep trying new things, always be willing to take risks, and even when you learn the rules, remember to break them now and then.




    1. Good! I started painting them as water lilies, and then I was asking myself, “Aren’t these just the same as lotus flowers?” I figured they were all alike. I’m so glad we both now know the differences. Thanks again for sharing your Lotus Oil Painting on your blog and “educating” me. Thanks, too, for visiting my blog and encouraging me.


  1. Way more than half… experimenting, which is just a big grown-up word for ‘play.’
    Isn’t the deepest pleasure of making art returning to that feeling one had as a child at play with your imagination?

    There’s a bit of Georgia O’Keeffe in those water Lilies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve learned to approach what I’m doing as “play” — not making “works” of art, but creating artistic playthings. I’ve never really grown up. My imagination is always with me, telling stories, creating art, making music, or just dreaming. I love Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings. She’s one of my favorite artists.


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