The seduction of watercolour.


I'm supposed to be painting but I thought I'd tell you how watercolour has captivated me. My life long love affair with drawing and painting has had so many twists and turns. I embrace my love for a while but then I push it away. It always calls me back though.

I started painting in my early thirties after I completed a sign writing course. I worked as a sign writer for a while but soon got tired of working in the sun and balancing on planks of wood between two ladders as traffic went whizzing past me. It was about the time when traditional sign writing was dying and computer cut vinyl lettering was the 'new' thing.

That was when I developed an interest in folk art and I started taking a few classes at an art studio close to home. A few months later I was teaching at that art studio. I taught for many years, I wrote an art instruction book called 'Painted Pastures' and I travelled to different places to teach workshops.

After 14 years, I grew tired of painting with acrylic paint and my interest began to wane. It was something about the excessive layers of paint that I had to apply to achieve the look I wanted. Anyway, one day, while I was ironing (...... I can’t believe I used to iron) I heard on the radio that the university near where I lived was taking enrolments for the Bachelor of Education course that was starting the following year.  Did I tell you I have always wanted to be a school teacher?  I decided in Year 4 after my teacher Mrs Whitfield had finished reading 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' aloud to the class that teaching was my future. So the next day I took myself off to university to enrol.

Four years later I was a fully qualified school teacher. I approached a few schools, gave them my details and told them I was available for relief work. I waited patiently for the phone to ring. Eventually it did ring but there were many days when it didn't. On the days it didn't ring, to keep myself occupied, I got out my dusty, old watercolour paints and I had a play (I had tried painting with watercolour years earlier and I discovered that it was way too difficult for me.)

I painted little 5" by 7" paintings of birds and I struggled. I tore a few paintings up in disgust and stomped my feet a few times in anger but I kept with it. I didn't want it to beat me again.

This little guy below was one of the first paintings I was happy with. I look at it now and I see how far I've come.



I kept painting and I produced more and more. Eventually I had these funny little paintings everywhere.

To show my progression over the past few is my first Kookaburra - painted in 2011.

Here is my second Kookaburra- painted in 2012.

My second kookaburra-louse-demasi

My second kookaburra-louse-demasi

and here is my third Kookaburra - painted 2014.



All my life I have jumped from one thing to another. I was never really fully satisfied doing what I was doing at the time. But now, after discovering watercolour, my only wish is that I had more time to paint. I wish I didn't have to waste time sleeping. Watercolour gets me out of bed everyday.  It has cast a spell on me and it's magic qualities never fail to excite me. Watercolour is a difficult medium to use and I have been humbled by it over and over. It has a life of it's own and it doesn't mind showing you that you are not always in control. As you can see, my journey has just begun and I have a long way to go. Art has and always will be my greatest passion.

My advice for new painters just starting out in watercolour is don’t give up. It’s not an easy medium to use because it has a mind of it’s own. Keep trying, keep painting, because it’s the ‘brush mileage’ that is going to get you there in the end. Use every failed painting as a learning experience. Every artist, even the masters, have paintings that fail. The public never has the chance to see them because they are discarded. Failure is how we grow, embrace it.

Just in case this post is still floating around in cyberspace long after I am gone and my future grandchildren happen to find it, I want them to know this: Find your passion and chase it with all that you have. If you do, you will never work a day in your life.