I’m Esther Moorehead, a Canadian watercolor painter currently living in Charlotte, North Carolina. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an explorer; an adventurer; a wonderer at nature’s glory. My creative journey began while I lived in Northern Ireland as a child. I fell in love with that land and sea, its tiny villages and beautiful people.
I thrived on observation—whether it was something as everyday as the details of a dahlia in our garden, or as epic as discovering an ancient castle ruin on the cliffs of the sea.
Since then, I have lived in several countries, traveled all over the world, and can’t help but paint the places I have seen. This passion for exploration and an excitement to share what I find is what fuels my work as an artist.
Watercolor didn’t find me until after I had been teaching art for several years! I always admired it but I was intimidated, because it was so elusive; wild almost. It had a mind of its own. I couldn’t control the results of my brushstrokes like I could with other mediums.
But one evening after teaching a miserable 9th grade lesson on basic watercolor techniques, I was decidedly annoyed at myself for not having more ability or confidence. It was time to tame the beast!
So it began—trying, failing, learning, growing, trying again, failing again…you get the picture! Instead of being intimidated by how out of control I was, I loved it. A crazy combination of intense focus to be intentional with every brushstroke, yet relinquished control so the water and pigment can work its own magic!
My process grows with me. It adapts to my surroundings, my subject matter, my goals. Sometimes, I sketch on location, but the majority of my finished paintings are completed in the studio (a fancy term for literally any free table space that can be claimed, depending on where I live!) using photo references (mostly my own).
I’m super particular about painting on a clean surface that isn’t soiled or stained by unwanted pencil lines or eraser marks. So I sketch and refine my drawings using layers of transparent paper until I’m happy with the design, then I transfer the final image onto watercolor paper using carbon paper.
Cold press, minimum 140 lb watercolor paper is my preference—the more texture the better! So far Saunders Waterford is my favorite brand to work with, but Arches is wonderful too. I use a combination of dry pan and liquid tube watercolors in a variety of brands, but right now Daniel Smith is winning. There’s an array of brushes at my workspace, but really the 4 go-to’s are a #2 and #8 round, a ¾ inch flat, and a #6 quill.
After my second daughter was born, I stopped teaching but realized how badly I needed a creative outlet! I jumped on Instagram in 2017 under the name Glendale Studio (after the street I lived on in Belfast as a kid) really as an incentive to paint regularly in order to build more skill. But as I started being able to sell my work online, I realized how much I wanted to grow my portfolio and create a steady income through art.
It’s a slow process because my kids are still young and I’ve made the decision to wait until they’re all in school before I really put the pedal to the metal. But so far, I’m loving the ride (and realizing how MUCH I need to learn about growing a creative business!).
My paintings have now been exhibited in Canada and the USA in several galleries and shows and are housed in private collections all over the world, which is a dream come true!
There are so many beautiful parts to my creative process of traveling, dreaming, sketching, refining, and painting. But by far the most rewarding part is when I can connect someone to a place in the world through my art so that they can relive a memory, remember a love, or find the courage to embrace their inner explorer.
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!