Third Time’s a Charm

It’s been a just about a year now since I started identifying myself as an “artist”. That leap came after my first sale in a local gallery, and after a few years of sharing my art on social media platforms. Shortly after that first sale, I signed up with Fine Art America (for $30 a year) to have an online gallery … and it was not too long after that I got my first sale through the FAA platform. So today, I am pretty comfortable saying that I’m an artist. It no longer feels so strange!

However, I have never actually learned to paint or draw, or anything else really. Well, I did take once class in oil painting my freshman year of college (I don’t want to admit how many years ago that was). And I have read some books and dabbled and practiced and watched process videos of other people making art.. I am not afraid of any medium and love trying new things. So I would say that I am a “self taught” artist (or as I am now learning, a stubborn self willed want to do it my way don’t tell me how to do it, artist).

Recently, I came across an online course called “How to Paint with Watercolor” and decided perhaps it was time to step back and get some instruction. I can paint with watercolor. I have even sold some of my watercolor paintings. But I have never considered myself a “watercolorist”. I don’t know how to bring out the magic of watercolor. I have seen those wonderful watercolor paintings, and I have always wanted to be able to do that. There is a difference for sure between painting with watercolor, and being a watercolorist.

The course is 14 lessons. The first 4 lessons were on materials. So me being me — I skipped those lessons and jumped right into the actual painting lectures. The first thing we painted was a cosmic night sky. It was supposed to be loose and fun, and practice wet in wet and masking and salt techniques. Mine did not come out so well:

So what went wrong? First thing is the paper is very warped with all that water. And while there are a few parts I like, it mostly turned to mud in the middle (in part due to the warping and pooling). And you can see where I tore the paper while removing he masking fluid. So not a great start. And I was disappointed … how could I be this bad? I thought I was an artist?

So, the second time, I went against my know it all nature, and started at the beginning of the course. I watched the lessons on brushes and paper and paint and preparing the paper. And I realized I had been doing all of it wrong. I did not know there were different paints or paper. I vaguely remembered I was supposed to pre-stretch my paper but I did not know when or why. And I learned I had been using very low quality paints. The thing is, I had read these things in so many books before, but until I heard the instructor explained it, it had never sunk in. So I went shopping (yes, I like that part) and bought the supplies the instructor suggested and reviewed in those early lessons. And I painted a night sky again, using pre-stretched paper, and higher quality paints. Here is the result.

Uggh. Still, not so great. Really worse than the first.

So, then I went back to the actual lesson on painting the night sky (did I mention I was stubborn?). I watched her do it. I saw she used a lot less water and a lot more paint. I paid attention. She she did not use black paint like I did in the second one, but instead mixed the red and blues to get a dark color. And she did not spray the wet painting with water, but rather carefully place water drops where she wanted to be. She was purposeful, even with the “freedom” of wet in wet technique. She new what she was doing.

So, here we go, my third attempt:

I’d say that is much better! The colors are more vibrant, and other than a few too many dots with the masking fluid, I am pretty happy with it!

Third Time’s a Charm. But I still need a lot of practice! Luckily have have many more lessons to go!

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