Wednesday, April 6, 2011

First Attempts at Watercolor

These are some of my first watercolors I did for a Danish street market a year ago: The Ugly Duckling, Thumbelina and the Princess and the Pea. I labored and labored over these and felt pretty good about each one as I completed. I liked the clean, pure look. I thought the Ugly Duckling even looked like a classic. 

I felt satisfied with my work, yet every piece was a struggle. I had a lot to learn and the task seemed overwhelming. So I stopped for a while and returned to chalk. I needed to learn so much, but I didn't know what I needed to learn.

Then something amazing happened.
My husband and I were feeling very lonely way out here in the country. Even in town there are not many people our age to share life with. I started praying that God would provide a like-minded friend my age. And He did.

I saw Sara Burrier's artwork at the Iowa state fair and immediately started "stalking" her via blog, etsy and facebook. I was awed by her watercolors, the sense of depth, light and line quality. I could tell by her profile that we had a lot in common and would be fast friends if only we had the chance to meet. So in an email explaining myself I asked if we could meet for coffee. 2 weeks later she replied, we had coffee and have been friends ever since. We started meeting in her studio on mondays and she opened up the world of watercolor to me.

Watercolors became even more overwhelming with all my new information. They were unpredictable, they provided too many texture options and there were way too many color possibilities. The first piece we worked on together was Rapunzel. I learned how to build up layers of watercolor with light glazes. Very helpful!

Even though I really liked Rapunzel, she seemed like a dead end. I didn't want to create any more art that looked like her. I was mesmerized by Sara's fairies and mermaids. Her style was so strong and consistent it made me want to see more.

But I kept cranking out "mediocre" watercolors. I remembered from my Trader Joe's experience that I had to produce a lot of ok art before I could start producing good art. So with much frustration I kept painting.

The last painting I did with Sara ended up absolutely boring. It was a crocus plant. She encouraged me to play and experiment with out caring what the final outcome would be. I hated it and felt pretty awful. I was thinking... well, maybe we can be friends with out doing art....

And then one morning I woke up thinking in watercolor!


  1. Your watercolors are BEAUTIFUL! I'm so glad I have one of 'The Three of Us'!

  2. Thanks sis, can't wait to show to the latest :) Wish I could show you in person!

  3. this is exactly what i was thinking of when i thought of you having a blog:) nice work, spoon!

  4. Aww, just read this post! As Chip from Disney's Beauty and the Beast once said...

    "Seeeeee, I toooold ya!" ;)

    And as you mentioned to me, we got quite the journey to go through, and sometimes it's murky and stormy...but helps us bloom in the end.

    Okay, I paraphrased but you get the point. SO excited to see you excited about your painting! LOVED drawing/painting together for 24 hours. Can't wait to do it again.

  5. BTW, I still think she looks like you. :) Beautiful.