July is world watercolor month! It’s a month where we celebrate this simple yet challenging medium. Watercolors hold a special spot in my heart because they are what I learned to paint with as a kid. I remember sitting in my Grandma’s kitchen using Crayola watercolor while I painted on white printer paper. When the paintings dried I would take the best ones and go around peddling them to the neighbors. Apparently my neighbors like supporting small businesses especially, self-employed five-year-old artists.
As I grew I experimented with various mediums including soft pastels, oil pastels, colored pencils, acrylic paints, and oil paints but I always came back to watercolors. In my sophomore year of high school my art class took a field trip to a local art museum. On that trip I distinctly remember seeing a painting of a field of flowers and with a farm in the background that had been painted using a line and wash technique. The artist had painted a lose scene using watercolors and then added details and expressive lines using Indian ink. That picture inspired me so much that I used that technique for many years following that. Sometimes I would splash bright colors all over the paper and draw abstract patterns and designs all over it. Other times I would paint a scene or object and then add ink details that helped to make the image look realistic.
Then when I came back to art after a seven-year hiatus I was immediately drawn back to watercolors. I loved that I could keep a pigment pure and still be able to lighten it up by only using water instead of using white paint. I loved how unpredictable watercolors could be and I could be incredibly loose with them. I liked how easy watercolors were to take with me as I traveled; only needing to bring minimal materials. They were also great as a mom because watercolors are really easy to set up and clean up. I could easily set them up and do an entire painting during quiet time. If I got interrupted while working it didn’t matter because I could easily rewet my paints if they dried and keep working. But most importantly they helped to nurture the inherent need in me to express myself creatively, letting go of fear and to create things that made me happy. Painting with watercolors filled my empty cup.
To celebrate this wonderful medium I am going to challenge myself to use watercolors every day. I might do a quick sketch, a small completed painting, or even spend several days working on a more complicated piece. The most important thing is that I pick up the brush and paint for a few minutes everyday.
Do you have a favorite medium to work in? Tell me in the comments down below.