Watercolor Waterloo

I once wanted to be an architect or a fashion illustrator. I used to love drawing houses, rooftops, and laying out rooms and sketching outfits. My Mom says that I doodled on the walls before I learned how to write. But then I fell in love with words, and arts took a backseat after that. 

Once in a while, though, I break out the pens and draw on my journal. Art gives me a kind of satisfaction different from writing. I usually turn to it when I’m bothered and restless, when I’m unsure what I want to really do. It’s an itch so different from writing. 

I have never tried watercolor as a kid, it has always been pens for me. I wanted definition, boundaries, and clear lines. But I’m also drawn to the soft blends of color produced by water and ink. However, watercolor intimidates me. It’s harder to control, and you have to master the blending of ink and water. But I really want to learn how to paint, especially the freeform florals that are the rage now in the Instagram art community. That and calligraphy. 

A few weekends ago, I joined a watercolor class at Craft Cebu, Guadalupe mentored by Meriam Pacayra (she runs the Bored and Crafty page). She taught the basics and showed how she paints her floral borders. It was my first time to dip brush into ink and it was a struggle. My strokes were all over the place. I can easily draw petals and leaves using pens, but it was much harder with a brush. And I couldn’t get the consistency of the color right. It was either too washed out, or too thick. 

This one above was my final output for that class. As you can see, my stems aren’t thin enough, and my leaves too defined. It’s supposed to be freeform so I wanted them to look, for the lack of a better word, strokey or swishy. 

Then I stumbled on Camille on Instagram. Her feed is full of her amazing paintings and calligraphy. When I read on her profile that she offers private workshops, I signed up for one right away. She offers it in two sessions (2 hours for each day). 

We did the first session earlier today. I like the private class because I can work on my own pace. There’s no pressure to hurry and catch up with everyone else in the group setting. As we go along, Camille points out to me which I need to work on (like the rose petals) while showing me techniques on how to paint the leaves, fillers, buds, and play of light vs. dark on the flowers. 

These were the results of today’s session. I’m starting to get the hang of it, I think. My petals show a big improvement, at least. When I painted them before, one can only tell that they were flowers because there were leaves. Ha!

This one (above) is my favorite composition out of all that I painted today. It was meant to be a practice sheet for painting buds. But then Camille made me do fillers and stems and leaves, and the result is reasonably good, right? (Be nice. Haha.)

Freeform is challenging especially if one has control issues (which I definitely do.) Camille tells me to let go, and just let the ink and water bleed into each other. I’m so afraid to make mistakes. With pens, I can always count on an eraser. But with watercolor, there’s no eraser. So I’m more hesitant, unsure, and uneasy. It’s messing up my brush strokes. But I’m determined, and I know I will be able to master the brush one day if I keep working on it. It also helps keep me distracted. 

Meanwhile, I need to save up money for watercolor paper and Prang paints because I’ll be needing a lot of them. 

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