GUEST ARTIST: “A Dream Just Waiting To Come True” by Cecile Lu

Watercolor Turtle by Cecile Lu CissyArtCafe - Doodlewash

Hi! I’m Cecile, and I’m a lifelong creative person who picked up a paintbrush when she was 3 and never looked back. What started as childish paintings of happy sunflowers at the kitchen table eventually evolved into still-life drawings, which have now evolved into happy explosions of color.

Today, I’m a young adult trying to figure out my place in the world while living in the busy space of New York City and paying the bills with my budding career in user experience and graphic design. I put most of my off-work hours towards my art, in an attempt to chase a childhood dream that’s finally ready to come true.

Watercolor Mermaids by Cecile Lu - Doodlewash

I like to paint things with stories, and I like to paint things that will make people smile. I enjoy playing with color and reinterpreting what may seem like a mundane thing into something more exciting. My hope is that my artwork will spread good feelings to everyone who sees it.

How It Began

I’m very privileged that my parents recognized my affinity for the arts when I was little, and were financially able to enroll me in extracurricular drawing classes after we moved to China. From the age of 7, I was in a drawing class every Friday afternoon from around 4 pm until around 8 or 9 pm, when my parents picked me up. In the beginning, my art teacher could barely communicate with me, because I did not yet speak Mandarin. We crossed our language barrier with our pencils.

Watercolor Panda by Cecile Lu - Doodlewash

It was during this time that I really learned the fundamentals of drawing and painting. I learned about light and shadow, and practiced painting still lifes every week with gouache. Eventually, I picked up a second drawing class with the same teacher, which meant that I was spending at least 10 hours every week painting until I turned 13.

Watercolor House by Cecile Lu - Doodlewash

At 13, I moved to the U.S. to go to a boarding high school. The art teacher there showed me how to become less rigid in my artwork and to be more creative with my color choices and my composition. He let me play with the different materials and mediums he had on hand and let me decide what I preferred best. During this time, I discovered that art had become a huge part of my identity.

I was forced to take a hiatus in college, when I barely had time to sleep. After I rekindled my love for painting a year out of college, it felt like there was true joy in my life again.

My Weapons For Mass Creation

I’m very comfortable with oil paints, acrylics, gouache, and watercolor (along with quite a few dry mediums), but I’ve discovered that watercolor is my true love. I love how portable a watercolor palette is. I really enjoy my Prima Watercolors Tropical Confections palette, which is very affordable and pretty good quality, with a water brush that I got for free in my Sakura Koi Travel palette.

Watercolor Journal by Cecile Lu - Doodlewash

To be honest, I’m not very picky with my tools. I’m a big believer that you can create great art with the simplest and cheapest tools! I grew up using student grade art supplies, and even today, I go for good quality student grade supplies because they help fuel my prolific art habits. While I enjoy a lovely sheet of Arches Cold-Pressed paper, I actually use Canson watercolor and mixed media papers more because they’re cheap and still great quality.

Watercolor Fish by Cecile Lu - Doodlewash

I always sketch out my art lightly with a cheap pencil from Muji before I start the watercoloring process. Sometimes, I’ll layer some Prismacolor colored pencil over it, and I’ve really enjoyed the texture it creates! It all depends on how I’m feeling during the moment of creation.

My Daily Painting Routine

I try to paint every morning before work, which is a habit I established pretty recently. While waking up at around 6 am is kind of miserable, I’ve discovered that painting before work gives me something to wake up for that brings me great joy. It clears my mind and puts me at ease before starting my day.

Watercolor White Elephant by Cecile Lu - Doodlewash

I have a Pinterest board that I pin reference images to, and I’m really drawn to painting cute animals lately. I love seeing how I can paint their faces and be true to the representation of the animal while putting a spin on it. And cute animal paintings are always really fun to look back on. I like to make up little stories to go with the art, and I like to create art that feels a little bit whimsical.

On weekends, I sometimes try to go painting outside. I recently did a painting at Prospect Park that I really love! I like seeing how I can reinterpret what I see and create something more vibrant and colorful than the source.

A little over a year ago, after I got out of a bad relationship, I looked through my sketchbook and realized a lot of my work looked a little bit sad. I promised myself that I would not paint another sad painting again, so my hope is that when people see my art, they feel happy too. I want to paint things that spread joy.

Watercolor Animals In Space by Cecile Lu - Doodlewash

I would love to become a full-time artist someday, and be able to spread joy through my art to more people. For now, though, my art is just my dream that’s ready to come true.

Cecile Lu
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Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!

23 Comments
  1. Vicki Murray 4 months ago

    Your philosophy about art supplies is a big encouragement to those of us on a limited budget. I have the koi and love the way it sets out to hold mixing area and paper. My husband says the same thing about golf, a $400 club won’t improve your game, practice will.

    • cissyartcafe 4 months ago

      Hey Vicki! Yes, I think it’s really important for people to know that you can make great art with cheap materials. I often see more ‘seasoned artists’ put down affordable art supplies, and that’s just not possible for a lot of us! Practice is the only thing that can make us better at anything. 🙂

  2. soniadutta 4 months ago

    So lucky you persue your passion. Your story of s a kind of inspiration. Keep soaring and remain attached to your passion.

    • cissyartcafe 4 months ago

      Thank you so much, Sonia!

      Cecile

      @cissyartcafe
      cissyartcafe.com

  3. Mary Roff 4 months ago

    Lovely work and definitely a smile maker. thanks for sharing!

    • cissyartcafe 4 months ago

      Thank you! I’m glad my art can bring you smiles, too 🙂

      Cecile

      @cissyartcafe
      cissyartcafe.com

  4. Paintprojectblog 4 months ago

    Awesome! We can really se your joy of painting in your paintings 🙂

    • cissyartcafe 4 months ago

      Thank you!

      Cecile

      @cissyartcafe
      cissyartcafe.com

  5. Zertab Quaderi 4 months ago

    Beautiful story and paintings! Wishing you the very best in future as a full-time artist.

    • cissyartcafe 4 months ago

      Thank you, Zertab!

      Cecile

      @cissyartcafe
      cissyartcafe.com

  6. Sandra Strait 4 months ago

    Cecile, your art is beautiful and … yes! It brings me joy!

    • cissyartcafe 4 months ago

      Thank you so much, Sandra!

      Cecile

      @cissyartcafe
      cissyartcafe.com

  7. Mary Ann Manalo 4 months ago

    I really enjoyed reading your story and your paintings! Like you, I also start painting before doing my office work everyday.

    • cissyartcafe 4 months ago

      Thanks Mary! I love painting in the morning 🙂 It feels so lovely and peaceful when it seems like the whole world is still asleep!

      Cecile

      @cissyartcafe
      cissyartcafe.com

  8. Eloise Howland 4 months ago

    This story sounds similar to mine but I haven’t got to that point yet. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t do art! I am still trying to figure out my style though. These bright colours have given me some inspiration. 😊

    • cissyartcafe 4 months ago

      Thanks for reading, Eloise! Good luck with finding your style. It took me a really long time, but I figured it out in the end – I’m sure you will find yours too!

      Cecile

      @cissyartcafe
      cissyartcafe.com

  9. Yolimar Cabello 4 months ago

    This is so beautiful and colorful. Love it!

    • cissyartcafe 4 months ago

      Thank you, Yolimar!

      Cecile

      @cissyartcafe
      cissyartcafe.com

  10. Sharon Nolfi 4 months ago

    I love your paintings of animals! Lovely, playful style.

    • cissyartcafe 4 months ago

      Thank you Sharon! I love painting animals 🙂

      Cecile

      @cissyartcafe
      cissyartcafe.com

  11. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 4 months ago

    Cecile, your story is like none I’ve ever read about before, but it gave you the opportunity to become an artist of wonderful paintings.

    • cissyartcafe 4 months ago

      Hi Sharon! Thank you so much 🙂

  12. Janneke Booister 4 months ago

    Thank you for sharing all that great art! My day is made – thanks to the happiness you are spreading 🙂

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