Old Dog New Tricks
Sometimes Mondays

Important Lessons

I've been taking watercolor classes for a few years now.   Watercolor is very challenging for me.  (Watercolor is challenging for most people, so that helps a little.)  I'm much more comfortable drawing.  (Because slower.  More controlled.)  (Also erasers.)  But watercolor?  It happens fast!  And beginners have very little control.  (And, well.  No erasers.)  

The only way I'm going to get better . . . is with practice.  Lots of practice.  I'm trying to paint or sketch at least a little bit every day.  And sometimes I combine my drawing with my painting.  (This is ink plus watercolor, for example.)


I'm getting better.  I'm getting more confident.  But . . . it's going to take a lot more classes and a lot more practice before I'll be able to sit and paint the landscape around me!

Here are a few things (three, in fact!) I've learned that help me keep going with my watercolor painting:

1 - Materials make a big difference.  High quality paints, brushes, and paper really help to make painting more comfortable -- with better results.  (Just like knitting.  And sewing.  And gardening.)  It's also helpful to remember that . . . it's just paper, y'know?  (They make more every day.)


2 - Look for improvement in each attempt.  I paint a lot of real clunkers, y'know?  Stuff I'd never post here -- and likely wouldn't even bring to show my (very supportive) classmates and instructor.  But I've learned to look for the good parts in any failed attempt.  At this stage, I have a tough time putting all the elements of a landscape (for example) together in one painting.  Usually, I'll like the clouds in one attempt, the reflections in another, the water in yet another.  Someday, if I keep working at it, maybe I'll like everything.  But for now . . . I look for something positive about each piece.  (In this one, I really liked the grasses. Even though the rest of it just . . . well . . . sucked.)

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3 - Maintain your sense of humor.  Last week, we were working on cows.  My quick watercolor sketch was going okay . . . until I (repeatedly) wrecked one of the eyes.  The poor thing looked blinded; totally dead in one eye.  So I took it to class like this . . . 

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We all had a good laugh.  But I'm ready to try again.  On better paper.  With a better drawing to begin with.  

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If it works out better this time, great!  And if not?  Well.  I'm sure I'll learn something from the process!


Be sure to visit Carole today, for more Three on Thursday posts.





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Yes, this is so true. Even with knitting. or sewing - things don't go as planned - and somethings the result is, well - less than wearable! Ha. And, I have knit more than my share of sweaters that eventually ended up in the frog pond!

(Oh, and to me?? Your painting is really lovely. Honestly!!)


I'm with Kat; I honestly love each of the watercolors you've shared here, and would hang any of them on my walls. Even (maybe especially) blinded cow with eyepatch!


I liked all of your watercolors, but that first one spoke to my heart! It is GORGEOUS!


I, too, love all that you have shared here (paintings/sketches and words). But, those white birches? LOVE. and


ooohhh ... picture #2 - I love all the colors in the moonlit snow! Thank you - as always - for sharing your art here - even the pieces you don't love ... you're an inspiration to try new things (and keep on trying!)


Just because your eye is (overly) critical (we all have that tendency) I think your work is very good and shows real promise. You're at a point where a tweak or two would make the picture excellent! It's wonderful to see your work and watch your progress (process!)! xox


These are wonderful! My friend is a water colorist. Each year she gives me a note card with her work on it. The transformation in her art throughout the years has come from much practice and is quite impressive.


I love each of your paintings and my favorite is the birch trees. I think how you fixed your cow painting is brilliant and a lot of fun. When I lived in NY I took some drawing and water color classes and had so much fun with it. Seeing your paintings makes me want to check if there are local classes here or at the university.
BTW-My youngest nephew will be attending Kalamazoo College next fall!


Your work is lovely!!


Yes, materials! I did some watercolor in high school art as one does and it was so-so. Then I started watercolors with a teacher after seeing some of his students' work and realizing they were producing better than average paintings. First thing he did was give me good, paint, brushes and paper. It definitely made a difference...and then his expertise, but it would have been an uphill fight if the materials had been $#!#.


I think your so-called failures are wonderful, just so you know. And I admire your can-do positive attitude and your commitment to improving your work.


Looks to me like you have been learning watercolor very well!


Wow is all I can write. Your work is beautiful. I meant to find a drawing/sketching class this winter and well, winter may be coming to an end. I'd say you have learned a lot from the process. And really - enjoying the process is what it is all about.


We are our own worst critic! Your watercolor scenes are super great! I love the fixer-upper for the cow and could not select one tree scene over the other. Most of all, I admire your learnings... although I encourage you to tell that muse to "Go take a hike! Beat it! Outta here! " Paint on!

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