A lot has changed for me since I began learning to draw seven years ago, and I mean this in multiple ways. My life is so different now. I’ve joined art clubs, I’ve shown work in galleries and exhibitions. I’ve even won ribbons and prizes. I sure never expected any of that to happen when I decided I should learn to draw.
But beyond those “real world” changes, life has changed for me mentally as well. I’ve finally moved past a lot of misconceptions I had about art. I’ve learned that it’s not all about “doing it right”. I’ve learned that art is not only individual expression but personal exploration as well.
And most of all, I’ve learned that art can really be fun once we figure out what we’re doing — and why we’re doing it. Sounds like a simple thing, right? For me, it wasn’t so simple.
Early in my art studies, my husband admonished me to “have fun”, and I always said I was. In truth, though, art wasn’t always an enjoyable process. If you’ve followed along with this blog for any length of time, you’ve read about my frustrations, my anger, my tears, my disappointments. I’ve come close to giving up a few times.
For such a long time I lamented that art was always going to be a struggle for me, especially where drawing is concerned. I envied those talented artists who simply sat down with a pencil and paper and created glorious works of art — all without even trying. Meanwhile, I was trying my best to come up with even simple line drawings and having to work very, very hard at it.
Thank goodness I’m finally appreciating imperfection in art. Thank goodness I’m seeing that my art should be different from anyone else’s. Thank goodness I’ve finally come to a point where art really is fun, regardless of the outcome.
I have Joy Ting to thank for many of these revelations. I first became acquainted with her during Sketchbook Revival 2022 where she demonstrated floral drawing. Following that, I signed up for a “Color Play” class she taught on Creative Bug. I started playing with oil pastels, and I started truly playing with colors. I loosened up. I relaxed. I had fun.
So, when she added a second “Color Play” class, I signed up for that, too. Now, I’m spending my mornings playing with colors again, this time using watercolor. I have no choice but to be loose and free here! And it feels good to just “let go” and let the colors suggest images.
I absolutely loved doing this quick, loose, rough watercolor sketch of a vase of flowers.
Prior to this, we used a single color and made a “mostly blind” contour drawing. With watercolor, you really can’t do a completely “blind” drawing (nor can you paint with your eyes closed) because you have to be sure you have some paint on your brush, so there was a bit of peeking involved in the first outline drawing.
Then, after completing that very rough “warm-up”, we looked at our reference photo again, chose colors that were similar, and just had fun making another loose, casual watercolor sketch. I realized right away that for this particular “floral study” it’s really all about the colors. I used several reds, oranges, and yellows to suggest the shapes of flowers in this vase, then added bits of green for leaves. For the stems I used greens and browns. Finally I used a bit of blue mixed with white gouache to give the vase — hopefully — a bit of a glass filled with water look. I then brushed on a bit of shadow.
I like this simple loose watercolor sketch. Probably I like it so much because I like the colors I used. But I like it, too, because it showed me again how much fun art can be. I’m so glad I’ve stopped fretting about “doing things right”. It’s so much better now to just relax and enjoy playing with my pencils and paints.