What are your plans for the World Watercolor Month prompt list? Are you participating in the challenge to paint every day? It was a privilege for me to be asked to create the prompts for this month, but it was also a challenge, because my creativity is an obstinate thing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stared at a prompt and felt completely uninspired. Creativity needs to be inspired, am I right?!
I struggle with prompts because my artistic practice doesn’t always make room for them. I would describe myself as a studio painter; I like to paint landscapes or abstracts and I often work best when I develop a single subject in a series of many paintings. So I work to a theme, which means that from day to day, I work consistently in one direction. Daily prompts force a change of direction that is much too rapid for my slow, intentional process.
What this has taught me is that I can make a choice to be very generous with my approach to prompts and challenges. You see, our dear friend Charlie O’Shields would be the first to tell you that the purpose of World Watercolor Month, Doodlewash, World Watercolor Group and the daily prompts that are provided throughout the year, are to serve YOU the artist in creating your thriving creative practice (and they’re always optional to participate, of course!). That means you get to define what a successful World Watercolor Month looks like for you! Is it painting every day? Three times a week? Getting your plein air painting stuff dusted off and getting outside? Is it finishing an online painting course you started and never finished? Maybe it’s simply exercising your artist’s eye and making a goal of spending more time noticing the world around you. You know what your creative practice needs, and what fits your life right now, and one thing I hope we can agree on, creativity flows better when it’s fun. Let’s make it fun together!
3 ways to make World Watercolor Month prompts work for you.
Let’s start with our World Watercolor Month prompts: I always want to work with prompts that offer multiple interpretations. It’s just more fun when I feel a little freedom to decide which direction to take a prompts. If you sometimes feel stifled by a creative prompt, here are three options to help you find a creative way to make the prompt fit your artistic practice:
1. The Literal Interpretation
Our first instinct when given a creative prompt is the most literal one; often, a NOUN. July 1st’s prompt of REFLECTION might have made you immediately think of a glassy surface, reflecting an object or a scene. That’s a great option, and it offers a lot of choices. Mirrors, water, glass, sunglasses with mirrored lenses, jewels, shiny cars. One of my friends painted a self-portrait of herself with her camera, distorted by the rounded surface she was reflected in. There are many tangible objects that carry some aspect of reflection, and they are fun to paint!
2. Make it an action
But I’m a painter who doesn’t like to be told what to paint. So often when I see a prompt, I ask myself, “How can I make this prompt into a VERB?” Viewed this way, the word REFLECTION takes on a different meaning. When I stop to reflect on my watercolor journey, I might find my mind meandering to the first watercolor painting I can remember making, and feel prompted to recreate it, comparing my skills today to back when I began. Or my reflection might take me back to the very first World Watercolor Month, and the paintings I created then. Using “reflection” as a verb means I get to take an opportunity to think about all the things watercolor has brought to my life, and start this month off with a sense of celebration!
3. Stretch it like Rubber: Make it Bounce!
A third option is to turn your prompt into elastic; make it really stretch to the extreme. Do some free association! REFLECTION? Mirrors reflect; try holding your paper to a mirror and painting backwards; looking in the mirror rather than at the paper! Maybe you are reminded of the phrase, “upon further reflection” and it makes you think of a painting you’d like to repaint using a new insight or approach. And since, in a mirror, objects are reflected in reverse, maybe you let the prompt lead you to reversing your usual approach to technique, or painting the opposite of something you’ve painted before.
Your free association can lead you down some interesting paths and it’s okay if they get a little obscure; the story is better that way! The word REFLECTION, as I consider it, reminds me the story from Greek mythology about the young man who fell in love with his reflection in a pond, Narcissus. And narcissus is also the name of a flower, so I could indulge my inner floral painter, and paint narcissi.
As artists, thinking outside of the box isn’t just suggested; it’s encouraged. It’s what can make our paintings stand out and bring individuality into our work. That’s why, before I start painting, I love to spend a little extra time thinking about my subject, my prompt and myself, and exploring just a little further below that first impression. I hope you’ll try it too!
Don’t forget to tag your work with #worldwatercolormonth throughout World Watercolor Month in July so that we can see what you’re creating!Recommended1 recommendationPublished in