The best way to start painting with watercolors

… is using pen and watercolor wash.

We all want our art to be great and impressive. However, if you are new to some medium or absolutely new to drawing and painting, you have to bear in mind: nothing happens right away and with the first brush stroke. I have had absolute beginners who were somewhat disappointed that their first piece of art wasn’t exhibition quality. Well, that is normal.

Every skill takes time, efforts and work.

Creation of drawing or painting involves lots and lots of information. Some people are courageous by nature and love to experiment, and that is a very good start. Some people are perfectionists and they believe everything they do must be either perfect or they are ready to give it up; and that is a completely wrong approach.

My personal attitude towards something new in painting: different subject, medium, tools or technique never focuses on perfection. I focus on potential. Something might work out and something might not. There will be easy parts and probably difficult parts. That way. I call this attitude: let us see what happens.

Progress is usually gradual. That is why we start with simple things and move to more complicated things.

Pen and watercolor wash is a great technique for beginning watercolorists. Some like it so much that they stick to this technique and turn it into their personal style.

If you are insecure about drawing lines with pen, sketch them in using pencil. You can draw over with pen and delete everything else. We have now clean drawing in black ink, and the white paper is not damaged.

Anything can serve as a subject: from your morning coffee cup to flowers in a vase or at the fence, from a bird at your window to sprouting vegetables in a garden. Any scene with some object is good, but flowers look extremely nice when done in pen and watercolor.

When somebody says they cannot draw, I don’t believe that. Most often that means they tried 1 or 2 drawings and these drawings were not splendid. So, they make a conclusion that they cannot draw. Talk to me after 200-300 drawings. That is a decent start. It is also much easier to point out what else one should do in order to create better art when they have done some attempts.

Pen and watercolor flowers and spring scenes

Flowers are extremely suitable subject for this type of watercolor application

Apple blooms in pen and watercolor: great starting subject

Birds fit in this category, as well

Spring mood with butterflies: excellent subject for beginners in watercolor

This exercise is for absolute beginners

Why to start with pen and watercolor? It is forgiving, it is easy and fast, and it allows learning watercolor application more effortlessly. The pen lines provide additional support. It is a flattering technique since practically any painting or drawing looks good regardless of how sufficient one is with watercolor only.

I have done numerous pen and watercolor paintings over years, just because it is fun, it is easy and looks fantastic.

Where did the time go?

Time is rushing us so badly that it sometimes feels I just wake up and go back to sleep. At least, I got this feeling recently. Along with doctor’s appointments, household stuff, daily meals, cleaning, laundry, classes, preparation of new images and steps for their painting, preparation of hand-out materials, advertising, social media posts, and I had two huge medical writing jobs, each one took a week approximately: that meant there was no time to paint. Although, my show is coming up and this is a gift season for which I should have better prepare. There was just zero time.

I put up a few decorations yesterday, and I had to give a class later, and that was it. The day just disappeared again. Anyway, I’m posting a watercolor still life which was done about 3 weeks ago, but THERE WAS NO TIME TO POST ANYTHING!

Watercolor still life

I hope my duties will somewhat balance out during the upcoming weeks and I can get to things which I really want to do: JUST SIMPLY PAINT. Starting image for a class is not quite the same: I have to take into account all distinctive levels of skill, and we often have absolute beginners, so that painting is just an illustration for what I am saying while teaching. Showing is definitely better than only telling about it. It is very helpful also that I can see and correct things which are usually problematic: very little paint, too much water, completely dry brush, unclean brush, putting pressure on brush and similar basic issues with painting supplies. The one thing which is ALWAYS WRONG is: trying to paint with tiny bits of paint or not having paint on a brush. We have to be generous! I think, generally, generous people also have much better results when creating art, they simply are not that much afraid of wasting anything. That certainly helps!

Watercolor still life detail

Painting takes time; at least a few hours here and there have to be set aside, so that no disturbances, interruptions or hassles harm the image which lives already in the imagination. I just didn’t get this chance recently, but I’m looking hopefully to the future.

To praise the divine, to overcome the dullness of routine

By far, my life hasn’t been a fairy-tale, but rather continuous attempt to prove that our powers exceed the known limits we have put ourselves within.  I believe that talk solves nothing. I am deeply convinced that too much fake positivism and superficial “everything is fine” statements can actually cause harm. When our intentions remain only as to-do-lists, there is no result. There is huge gap between the real action and intent.

We often hear that life is not fair. Well, life as such is fair and fine, it is humans who make things become unfair and unfavorable for others.

Therefore, I wish there was much less pretending that everything is fine and much more doing in order it was like that.

For me, praising the divine does not mean unstoppable talking about it. That means bringing the beauty to people and making them understand how little, in fact, we need to experience the most valuable things on this Earth. There would be much less suffering if one day we had opened our eyes and started calling things their correct names. Becoming realistic is not a bad start.

The daily routine is absorbing plenty of time and taking large amounts of energy. People who are not rich have to deal with this whether they are happy with it or not.  Even though, I could do so many useful and exciting things instead of cleaning up and washing dishes or cooking, that is not going to change. I do everything fast, and I have a prevention system in place: to avoid general cleaning, I do not allow any dirt or messes to accumulate. I spend 12 hours or more a day quite often on medical writing. That is the job I make my living with. I wish I earned my living with teaching and doing art, but that is a bit of unreal idea at the moment.

The other energy drainer is my health conditions. Thankfully, I have a huge medical knowledge, so I can realistically access my options. I deal with that, too, as good as I can, and I do not pretend these conditions are going away or disappearing, because they are not. Not all wounds can be healed with good intentions and positive attitude: some take surgeries and some take long treatments. However, I refuse to be completely limited or defined by these conditions. Whining or crying is not going to help, so I am a realist and I am setting for me reasonable goals. This does not mean having a negative attitude; this is just honestly evaluating the situation and having it under control.

I have inherited love to the nature and all Gods creations from my great grandparents, grandparents and my parents. I strongly believe that family either makes one creative and resourceful or completely ignores this necessity by not appreciating the great experiences and benefits creativity has to offer, although, this does not always mean any financial benefits. I am genuinely thankful I have all skills and knowledge to dress myself, sew and design my clothes and outfits, to grow my own garden plants , flowers and vegetables, to cook fantastic meals with little efforts, to decorate my living space and create all necessary items for that and so on and so forth. This is all because of my family. Somebody might call me workaholic, but I hate simply sitting around and doing nothing. I cannot recall any single episode of my childhood or earlier years when I had to admit I was bored. I was always busy. Trying to make something from nothing. That is a great way to, a great way to live since I am seeing some opportunity just about everywhere.

Spring flowers for greeting cards

I am sending flowers to my mom every time whenever there is some important day or some celebration because I know she appreciates and loves them. We are far away, the Ocean is between us, but we can talk on Skype. My husband gives me flowers on every occasion, not only when there’s a celebration or birthday, but just for pleasure, as well. I have always fresh flowers around me, many are potted. I believe he does this because he knows how I am talking to plants and how much I enjoy them. They respond with adorable blooms and never-ending beauty.

Apple blossoms and butterflies for greeting cards

I feel that my duty is to teach other people to enjoy things which are not that costly, but rather a true source of happiness, pleasure and satisfaction. It would be tough going through life without art and beauty. The importance of brain fitness is completely ignored, but I am trying to make everybody aware how this can be achieved with simple sketching and drawing on a daily basis. If one can escape the age related dementia and loss of brain functionality just doing some visual art exercises, why don’t they do that? That’s a good question because physical body is always put first and mental and spiritual well-being is supposed to occur automatically which is absolutely and totally wrong.

I hope I’m doing my part and creating art pieces for our eyes to enjoy. To me, this means praising the divine every single moment not only in words, but with doing.

Robin nest Easter card

Robins nest: a greeting card, poster, art print, and wall art

Spring art prints flower wall art

View on the table of my paintings, originals are 16 x 12 inches each

Wall art for spring decoration

I struggled a lot to get the right colors on photos, some came out ok, some not that much

Butterflies and birds spring watercolor paintings

These are the new images for spring cards, Mother’s Day cards and cheerful prints to decorate our living space for warmer and lighter season. They look excellent as pillows, too, I cannot enjoy enough. Everything is available through Fine Art America at very moderate prices (link on the right side).

Pink rose watercolor painting Orange rose watercolor painting

Apple blossoms and butterfliesSpring tulips

Happy Easter and sunny spring for those who do not celebrate Easter!

Sketching in watercolor: what’s the advantage?

I’m usually advising my students: if you ever would like to learn drawing for real, do not use photos, grids and other tools, but only your eyes in addition to paper and pencil. That provides with a huge artistic freedom and allows not to depend on camera, printer, computer and photo editing software. That also saves a lot of time. It is more difficult for some people to draw and paint from a real object initially, but it is like everything else: once you’ve understood how it’s done, the improvement is continuous and inevitable.

I grew up and learned painting without any cameras and photos. There was no internet, there were no computers. I suppose, that’s why the number of artists was noticeably smaller, too: in order to paint or draw something, you simply had to employ your visual abilities and imagination. I am disagreeing with those who are trying to convince us that everybody in the past was using some kind of camera obscura in order to capture accurate details, proportions and perspective. It’s believed, mostly amateur artists were using it since they did not have the knowledge and capability of producing good drawings. I know, everybody has heard about Canaletto whose drawings were created that way. Well, there a few others, too. However, majority of artists were using THEIR OWN visual perception and THEIR OWN drawing ability.

I find that most people cannot draw not because of inability to handle pencil and create the image, but because they don’t know what to look for when they are seeing something and would like to re-create it on a paper or canvas. That takes practice and work, that’s all.

I love doing drawings or sketches just for my own pleasure. It’s so great to see some stuff evolving on a sheet of a blank paper. Nothing really compares to this fantastic feeling! That always excited me, and I could spend hours drawing alone while other kids were playing in the yard. I would draw anything in the garden, on the street, I used to do lots of portraits of my sister, other kids and later my daughter and my group-mates at the University.

Paintings are sometimes bothersome, especially the large and very large ones because that simply is a lot of work, it can be hard physical work, as well, when handling huge canvasses.

Sketching with pencil, watercolor, pen, ink or with watercolor and ink is a quick way of capturing the desired scenery of object. I cannot draw recently anything tiny because my eyes are getting worse and am trying not to use glasses. Well, my sketches are between 10 x 12 to 12 x 16 in, but done quite fast.

Sketching still life: ink and watercolor

There are many advantages of sketching with pencil, watercolor, ink and pen or some of these together. First of all, sketching allows to stay focused. It’s like a daily exercise which keeps us in a good shape. Our senses stay sharp and fresh, and it’s easier to get back to larger artwork after a break when one has been often sketching.

Sketching in watercolor and pen

Sketching does not take much time, it is very relaxing. Many artists and people who are doing art for pleasure know that lack of time is an ongoing problem.

Floral sketch, still life sketching

Sketching is a good thing when one wants to experience another medium, try another subject or style. There are millions of different ways of sketching, meaning, there is something for everybody.

Sketching still life in watercolor

Finally, sketching is crucial for those who want to master drawing for real and from live objects, or to capture a plein-air scenery. We can learn writing when we read a lot, we can learn many things just reading about them, but drawing is something which we can only learn by doing it. The more we draw, the more we sketch, the more artistic options we get. We might get this way a new idea, a new approach and we might find a completely new style which works for us. I always have something on my studio tables: flowers, cups, jugs (my favorites, I have a large collection of them!), fruits, berries, room plants, books, painting supplies and so on. I’m already waiting for springtime because that’s when the true sketching starts as the nature wakes up and takes us outdoors.

It is also possible to frame sketches and use them as beautiful art for decorating your space. Sketches can make great illustrations and sometimes serve as a standalone artwork.

Nature, floral still life sketching

Happy sketching! Please share your experiences with different media and subjects if you have time.