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I started this blog, and website because of my love for creating, my love of painting and my love of writing and reaching out to others.

I read ALL the advice for starting a blog, and ALL the advice on starting a business… even things way over my head like SEO (which I still don’t get) marketing strategies, presenting ones self professionally.. what to and not to blog about.. blah, blah, blah. I did my best to implement these things, but somehow it doesn’t seem to be working in ways that are important…

The next instalment of the Watercolour Painting series is coming shortly but I need to step back and get real. I just don’t work the way most people do. I never have and I’ve tried every technique to become more ‘typical’, more ‘normal’, just so I could be successful in what I love to do, just so I could fit in, just to be acceptable, if nothing else.

It doesn’t work for me.

This may not either, but it doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is being true to myself and giving myself permission to be real. I have ADHD (well, not the H, but whatever). It colours everything I do, and who I am and how I relate to the world, to creativity, and how I operate.

I’m not always going to be consistent, I’m not capable of finding or having a particular ‘style’, or do my work in ‘series’, or focusing on particular subject matter for extended periods of time, as my interests change daily. I don’t fit into the common idea of what an artist should strive for because I’m distractible and I find myself drawn to novel and new things all the time. That’s how my brain works. That’s reflected in my art that jumps all over the place depending on what catches my imagination. It’s also a strength, because I can turn my hand to many different approaches, learn many different skills, and be captured by many different aesthetics and subjects.

“In the midst of all the chaos in your mind, and all of the disorganization, and all the trouble getting started, and procrastination, your brain just thinks a little bit differently. And you can come up with things.”

David Neeleman, former CEO of Jet Blue Airways, ADHD

It’s been very helpful as a graphic designer, because I’m bringing multi-disciplinary skills to my clients. I’m not a one-trick pony! It’s also been a challenge in some ways. I get bored easily, I’m not very good at rote and routine work—though I can do it for short periods if I have to—ultimately I need challenge and variety to give my best. It can also be a gift as I can see ‘the big picture’ and come up with solutions that others may not.

I’m tired of hiding it, or being ashamed of it. I’m not wired like most people… and that is not a bad thing.

and that’s okay.

“They say a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind. What then is an empty desk a sign of?”

~Albert Einstein

So, for my readers/collectors, you may see some changes in the blog as I will relate my creative endeavours with the challenges of being ADD, and in the art that reflects this shift.

For potential clients/job partners I have something unique to offer. More on this later.

And.. anyone out there who can relate… welcome to the tribe!

Oooo!! There’s a Deal for Subscribers!

Maybe it’s the sun is getting to me, maybe it’s the heat, but there’s a great reason to subscribe to the blog. 80% off ANY artwork on the site until the end of July.

Yes, I said 80%. (I must be crazy)

But that’s not all! As a subscriber you receive first notice of new posts, tutorials and upcoming classes as well as downloadable sketches to follow along with the tutorials, deals on holiday items and a lifetime discount of 10% on any custom work.

I will never spam you (ugh, I hate spam) and your email is safe with me.

Just pop in your email.. over there on the right and your special, secret 80% discount code will be sent to you.. for you to use on anything, until the end of July. Hey! Maybe you can get ahead of your Christmas list this year!

The next watercolour tutorial should be posted in a a day or two.. with PICS of my own watercolour set-up and supplies. Yup, I’m getting brave. 😀

As always, leave a comment, ask a question, please hit the like button, share and happy painting!

How to Start with Watercolour — Part 3

Ok. So we have a palette and some watercolour paint. What now?

Water:… LOTS of water, this is watercolour painting, after all. I have two containers of water, a large one for washing out my brushes and a smaller one for clean water to paint with.

Paper towel: I find that having lots of paper towel, and/or an absorbent towel is the bast way to soak up used paint from my brush before washing my brush out. It keeps me from having to get up all the time to get fresh water. I also have a sponge.. the kitchen kind but without ANY chemicals in it to wipe my brush on between colours. I can wash it out and save on using a forest full of paper towel.

Brushes: You need a nice soft brush (not a bristly, inflexible one – those are for oils) I find some softer acrylic brushes will work, but when you want to get serious a good watercolour brush is a must. There are plenty of good brushes… you don’t NEED a Sable. I find the squirrel mop is a lovely brush. A watercolour brush review is in the works, for now any decent soft brush… a size 8 or 12 is a good start.

Some Nice Brushes

some of the brushes I use…

Paper: And some paper. The paper is very important – you do need to have paper that can cope with the water. I recommend 140lb cold pressed watercolour paper. This article will tell you all you need to know about paper. Honestly.. I have found that the paper is the most crucial supply. Just recently I tried out some different papers, and since I almost exclusively use Arches, it was an eye-opener. It was incredibly frustrating to try to paint on some of the cheaper ‘watercolour’ paper. They are just awful. Not an enjoyable experience. Get the best you can afford.

Masking tape: A better quality one so it doesn’t damage your paper.. painters tape works well, I like the green stuff… Painters Mate. You can get it at the local hardware store. There is ‘artists tape’, but it’s scary expensive and I could only justify it if I had some serious paper.. like 300 lb and was working on a commission.

If you have never painted before then I suggest you have a go at just playing with the paint and getting used to how it behaves on the paper. If you are using a full sheet or any page larger than 9 x 12 inches tape it off into four rectangles. You are going to be more comfortable with smaller areas to start and you won’t feel like you are ‘wasting paper’ this way while you get used to your new supplies.

Let’s get started!

Your first Watercolour Technique: woohoo!

1. Wet on wet

This is what most people think of when they think of watercolour.. loose, flowey, soft. Start with dry paper, take a clean brush and dip it into your water. Paint a little puddle of clean water on your dry page. Now you can choose a colour to put your brush into. Touch the paint to the wet page and watch it spread – isn’t that wonderful?

Here is what I do: Load the brush with water and kind of scatter it on the page.. a few big drops here and there, some brushed areas.. a splatter. Look at your paper and if you see puddles, wait a minute.. if you see a nice wet sheen load your brush with a colour you like and just touch the brush to the wet paper, close to the edge where it meets the dry paper.. and watch the magic happen. (if it’s a dull sheen, add more water first) Wash out your brush and load it with another colour… close to your first colour (if you chose yellow, grab an orange, red or pink.. if a blue grab some purple or green) Touch it in close to the first colour, watch them mix and blend on the paper. Notice how the paint only goes where the water is. Lightly drag your cleaned, damp brush through the two colours, just gently urging them together in a few places.

Play and experiment with these wet on wet techniques:

  • Try a very wet clean puddle on the page and drop in a bit of colour
  • Make a clean puddle but wait a bit so that the water soaks into the page before you add the colour – compare your results with the first one and try different lengths of drying time
  • Try more than one colour on your wet (more like damp) puddle and watch them blend  
  • Paint a puddle of colour onto the page and then drop in another colour. This is still wet on wet, it’s just wet colour instead of wet clean paper
  • Try dropping clean water into a puddle of damp colour and wait to see the effects it makes. Don’t push the water about – just let the paint and water do its own thing to see what happens. And then do it again but do push the water about – compare the different effects.
  • place some drops of colour on the puddles and tip your paper so the paint runs… now tip it another way.

    Now for a secret… get some yellow and just drop in a few drop, here and there. Yellows, I find are pushy, they push the other paints around. Pay attention to how it does this and watch what your other colours do as well. Aim for a nice messy colourful page – so much fun! Do this for each of your four rectangles, take your time, listen to your intuition and try different things.

Tape off another page and try some more… Play with the wet on wet technique and find out what the paint does, find out what colours mixing on the page make, look for neat shapes and effects. Don’t worry about making it look like anything yet. This is an abstract way to get comfortable with watercolour.

This concludes Part 3 of Starting with Watercolours. Stay tuned! In Part 4 we will explore Wet on Dry, and prepare for a full painting!

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Share your experience of what you learned, leave a comment, or ask a question below. I’ll do my best to answer any watercolour or general art questions you might have.