I recently signed up for another free online class from Michael’s. This one was on “Watercolor Herbs”. Being a lover of all things herbal and having discovered how much fun watercolor can be when I don’t take myself too seriously, it sounded like the perfect class for me. I did, however, fail to note the time zone and showed up an hour late. No problem, really. The class was recorded so I could just watch the video the next day.
I had previously downloaded the template provided for the class — a collection of three different herbs.
I smiled when I saw these templates, and without hesitation I grabbed three sheets of my Strathmore pre-cut watercolor paper. These herbs would be easy enough to draw. So, draw them, I did. Rosemary, marjoram, and basil.
Although I used three sheets of paper, here I’ve over-lapped them to get them to all fit on my scanner. I used an “F” pencil, so the actual marks were very light. I’ve darkened the image so that you can see what I drew.
Far from perfect, but certainly recognizable as the same three herbs in the drawing template. I had trusted myself and drawn these rather than use the template.
I’ll admit here that a year or two ago, I would have used the templates and traced them onto my watercolor pages. My thinking would have been, “Well, they provided the templates, and I do want my art to look as good as possible.” Logical thinking, really, for who I was and where I was with my art.
Today, however, I’m willing to let my art be imperfect, willing to simply grab a pencil and do the best I can. The results are more personal, my art more expressive, and my sense of satisfaction greater.
So, with my drawings in hand, I was all set for the class. When I logged on, however, I realized I’d shown up at the wrong time. I wasn’t concerned. I would watch the playback the following day.
But on the following day, the class recording was still not available. Of course, I could have set my drawings aside and waited a bit longer. Why do that, though? The next few days were filled with activities, events, places to go and things to do. I really wanted to complete my herbal watercolor studies that day, just as I’d planned.
So, I simply trusted myself, just as I’d done in drawing the herbs. I knew from the supply list provided that this was an “ink wash” project. Watercolor combined with ink line art. I could handle that. I got out my gansai and trusted that I could turn my drawings into lovely little “herbal pictures”. Mine might not look like those that were done in the class — I used my gansai and I chose my own colors — but my little pictures would look just fine.
When all was said I done, I was happy with my herbs. I made mistakes in both the drawing and the painting, but overall, I liked these herbal studies, especially the rosemary.
I think I like the rosemary because I really wasn’t sure how to approach it. It was just lots of lines! Where should I use the gansai? How should I use the ink? I shrugged, trusted myself, and did what felt right. I think it helped that rosemary is one of the herbs I always have growing in my herb garden, so I was drawing and painting something I’m quite familiar with.
All in all, yes, I do like my herbal gansai ink-wash paintings. Here are the other two:
Most of all, I like knowing that when it comes to simple art projects, I can trust myself. I can trust myself to copy simple line drawings. I can trust the knowledge I have. Attending the online class live would have been fun, and I’m sure I will enjoy the project when I finally do get to watch the video replay. I’ll probably draw these herbs again and paint along with the instructor.
But I don’t have to have an instructor holding my hand and guiding me every step of the way. I’ve learned enough to trust myself. That feels good. Really good.
This, then, is the message I want to share with you today. We all have doubts from time to time, some of us more often than others, for sure. We don’t have to let those doubts hold us back. It’s good to step out alone, to take what we’ve learned and go with it. So be willing to trust yourself. Be willing to risk making mistakes. Don’t worry about turning out imperfect art. It’s only as we trust ourselves and let go that our art truly becomes our own.