Saturday, July 11, 2009

Baby Steps in . . .

watercolor journaling

I have, for many years, admired travel sketchbooks and journals, especially those done in watercolors.

I am a big fan of watercolors in general. I don't know if it's their softness, or the way they seem to be especially forgiving, as it really seems to me that many appear to be colored "outside the lines." I just like them.

For me, part of the appeal of sketchbooks and travel journals is that they are done quickly and in the moment. I fully admit that patience is not one of my strongpoints. So the idea of completing a sketch or painting in a journal in a matter of minutes or an hour, as opposed to days or weeks, really thrills me.

My grandmother painted. She dabbled in acrylics and I have one of her paintings hanging in my spare bedroom. It's just a vase of flowers, and it's not perfect, but that's not why she painted. She painted because she was a creative type. She gardened, she crocheted, she sewed, she loved to write letters, she loved to cook and have luncheons for her lady friends. I have realized just in the last couple of years how much I am like her. And I miss her.

My favorite of her paintings, though, are a couple of miniature watercolor landscapes that she did for me. She used just the little dime store eight-color paint palette and the paintbrush that came with it. And her "canvas" was the tiny piece of cardboard that used to be in the bottom of the purse-sized packets of tissues. It's about 2 or 3 inches wide by about 4 inches long. I was probably still in grade school when she painted them, and I was in awe. She was an artist!

I have "dabbled" myself several times in the last few years. Other than a few very small Chinese brush paintings that I am fairly pleased with, I never felt that I got the hang of it. I never liked the finished product. I've tried watercolor pencils, a small watercolor palette, and even a few tubes of watercolor paints. I recently signed up for a class next month - just three hours one morning at a botanical garden. But I decided I wanted to practice a little bit ahead of time. I found some instructional videos on the Internet and watched them, and decided to give it another go.

The first sketch I did just in watercolor pencils a couple of months ago. I had not added any water until today. I don't love it, but it's a little better after I played with it today.

The next two I did tonight. I used watercolor pencils again and just looked at some pictures from a magazine and copied thrm.

I rather like the lavender. And the fruit is kind of growing on me. I definitely can't wait to try some more! On to the paint palette next.


  1. very nice. i like those alot. i love the fruit.
    i'm jealous of your talents. I need to get me some watercolor pencils, i didn't know those existed.

    apparently i live under a rock. lol.

  2. Janet, the more I read your blog the more I want to meet you! This post speaks to me on so many levels.

    First of all, your babystep watercolors are wonderful. You surely have a gift for drawing and I'm glad you're honing it. My favorite is the lavender! (which I immediately want to buy)

    Secondly, like you I have admired travel sketchbooks which capture a moment in time which lends itself to a thousand memories of a day or a place. There is always the camera, but it's not the same.

    I, too, am a big fan of watercolors for exactly the reasons you stated. The soft edges, the gentleness, but I have found it to be the most difficult medium for me to master because I'm so impatient and hurky jerky in my art. I believe we are drawn to the things we already have inside of us, so I know I can do watercolors...Ijust have to grow some more inside.

    My father painted and was highly creative and, like you with your grandmother, miss him terribly. I would love to see a photograph of your grandmother's little watercolors. She had the need to create and did it on whatever was at hand, the sign of a true artist.

  3. Mrs. Rotty - the watercolor pencils are way cool - very versatile. they can be used a couple different ways and are great for packing up if you want to take paints with you when you travel, hike, whatever.

    Likes Chocolate - thank you SO much!

    TFM - I know what you mean about meeting! I feel the same way! Someday we've just got to make it happen! I will dig out those little masterpieces. I've been wanting to anyway, so that I can look at them everyday. And I'm going to keep practicing. Hopefully I'll have more to share soon. xoxoxo

  4. I've been thinking about taking a watercolor class for years because the soft mistiness and forgiving nature really appeals to me. How have you found the watercolor pencils? As much as I love looking at colored pencils, it intimidates me to use them since I feel like I can't draw for beans.

  5. Kiki, I used them for drawing in the first photo, but not in the other two. You can use a paintbrush, wet it, and brush it on the tip of the pencil, picking up the color that way. I like that method much better!

  6. i like the blueberries. i have watercolor pencils, but never water them...must try that. :-) thanks for the inspiration!


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