My first attempts at learning watercolor came in 2016, soon after I started this blog. I’d been pursuing my interest in art for less than a year, having started learning to draw the previous summer.
I enjoyed playing with watercolors but quickly realized that I wasn’t very good with them. No problem. I still had many other media to learn and explore.
Then, once I began oil painting toward the end of that year, my interest in watercolors quickly faded away, much like a pale wash does on watercolor paper. Now and then I tried a watercolor project, but the results were so awful I had to laugh. Obviously I wasn’t meant to be a watercolor artist.
That was fine. It’s still fine. If I can become proficient at landscape oil painting, I’ll be happy. That’s my real love when it comes to art.
This year, however, I’ve found myself doing a lot of watercolor work, and I’m truly enjoying it. I think I’m more ready to learn now than I was four years ago. I have a much better understanding of many principles of art and design, and I’ve gained a lot more practical, hands-on experience in many aspects of the art process.
Playing with watercolor is still frustrating at times, but mostly it’s fun. I’m making it fun by not taking myself too seriously, playing with lots of colors, and trying out lots of new things.
But along with new things, I’m doing a few “old things” too — like an online watercolor workshop course. I went through the course in 2016 to learn the basics, so why not go through it again as I’m re-learning?
It’s fun to go through the projects again — like this not-quite-a-still-life watercolor painting of three pears. I call it not quite a still life because it doesn’t show any table or wall. There’s no background. It’s just a simple painting exercise — three pears sitting on some imaginary surface.
It’s primarily an exercise on using watercolor to blend colors and create a three-dimensional appearance.
Overall I think I succeeded. My shadows could have been a little better, but I like the look of the pears.
Once I’d finished the project, I wondered how the finished painting would compare to the first one I’d done four years ago. Would I see a marked improvement? Any improvement at all? I was curious, so I got out that painting of pears.
I think I see some improvement, but not as much as I’d hoped. My recent pears are slightly better shaped, I think, but maybe not.
The one difference I do see… well, maybe I don’t see it as much as feel it. To me, my more recent attempt has a more confident sense about it. The brush strokes seem bolder, the colors brighter.
I see now that the shadows in my first painting were off. I guess I’d never noticed that before.
In some ways I’m disappointed. I’d hoped that the differences between the two paintings would be astounding. But, then again, why should they be? Between the time I painted the first in 2016 and the second now in 2020, I’ve spent very little time with watercolor, only picking it up and beginning to learn again about 2 months ago.
So, yes, I’m still a rank beginner when it comes to watercolor, but I no longer feel that I’m only a beginner at art. I’ve definitely learned a lot over these past few years, and I am glad to see a bit of confidence coming through in the work I do.
I’m more willing now to accept imperfections in my art, more willing to look for what’s good, and much more willing now to take chances, to try different things, to take artistic license and create works that express my point of view, my thoughts, my feelings.
I’m enjoying this journey through the world of art, and I know I am making progress day by day. And as I continue working my way through the watercolor workshop course, I’ll have fun looking back at where I was four years ago.