GUEST DOODLEWASH: It’s Never Too Late

Jellyfish watercolor in Crayola paint - doodlewash by Jen Fabish
Green head of lettuce watercolor - Doodlewash by Jen Fabish

Grumbacher Watercolors

Hello! My name is Jen Fabish, and I live in Northern California (follow me on Instagram!). I wasn’t a particularly creative kid and didn’t grow up in an artistic family. It wasn’t until I was in my early 20s and working with seriously emotionally disturbed kids in a non-public school that I fell in love with painting. My kids had done book reports on Charlotte’s Web that were going to be posted in the school’s hallway, so I decided to paint the cover of the book to accompany them.

I used poster board and 99-cent craft store paints, and, to my surprise, it came out beautifully! Other projects soon followed. I felt so happy and at peace when I was creating. I considered pursuing art, but the idea of being a “starving artist” scared me, and I went drastically in the opposite direction—to law school. Thereafter, I dabbled in art a few times, but always quit, frustrated by my inability to realize the ideas in my head and intimidated by my lack of technical skills. I was my own worst enemy.

Purple Abstract in Holbein Watercolor - Doodlewash by Jen Fabish

Van Gogh Watercolors

When I left that job working with kids, a colleague told me that, while she wished me well in law school, she felt I was wasting my artistic abilities. I remembered that recently and had to laugh, because, 20+ years later, I have long since left the law and am finally circling back to art. About two years ago, I picked up a paintbrush for the first time in eons. I wrote “process, not outcome” on a piece of paper, hung it from my task lamp, got started (that’s always the hardest part), and have been painting steadily ever since.

I’ve been playing with watercolors for about a year now. My introduction to the medium: a set of Crayola watercolors from the drugstore (the jellyfish above was painted with these)! The nephew I’d bought them for wasn’t interested, so I challenged myself to use them to illustrate a book I was making for a friend’s kids. Some of the pictures came out better than others, but I was hooked.

Broken heart under construction watercolor - Doodlewash by Jen Fabish

Grumbacher Watercolors

I’m currently focused on building skills and finding my artistic voice, which means my inspirations and art—in medium and style—are all over the map! In addition to watercolors, I use acrylics, oils, and gouache, and dabble in collage and mixed media work. For the time being, I have a relatively modest collection of watercolor supplies.

Red and white mushroom cap watercolor painting - Doodlewash by Jen Fabish

Holbein Watercolors

I retired the Crayolas for a Grumbacher 24 pan set. I also have four colors of Van Gogh, and recently splurged on a small set of Holbeins. I don’t have a palette for my tube paints yet, so I just dab bits of paint into small plastic dishes for use. I also paint mostly with brushes meant for acrylics. I hope to invest soon in some proper watercolor brushes, but for now my mantra is “use what you have.”

Mushroom watercolor painting - Doodlewash by Jen Fabish

Holbein Watercolors

A year ago, I couldn’t imagine that anyone other than my immediate friends and family would be seeing my artwork, and I was downright shocked when Charlie kindly invited me to be a guest here. For a very long time, I thought I’d missed my window for becoming an artist. But that’s not the case. It’s never too late.

I am on Instagram if you’re interested in following along on my artistic journey. Best of luck to you on yours!

Jen Fabish
Instagram

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!
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43 Comments
  1. Moon in Capricorn 1 year ago

    What a funny coincidence. On Monday I mentioned drawing a lot of sea creatures, but noted that I’d never tried drawing a jellyfish. And now I see such a delightful one here! I enjoyed the post.

    • Jen 1 year ago

      Thank you for reading and definitely try the jellyfish – they are fun!

      • Moon in Capricorn 1 year ago

        I have a set of Crayola watercolors, too…LOL. I actually enjoy using it even though I have “better” sets. I might just have to use it now for a jellyfish. Your was incredible!

      • Jen 1 year ago

        The Crayola colors are quite vibrant – probably precisely because they are made for kids! Mine were the washable kind, and I found that they lifted from the paper pretty well, too. All of the little round splotches in the tentacles were made by letting drops of water sit on the paper, and then blotting them with a rag. They were a good starting point for me because they were so inexpensive, and I didn’t feel any weird pressure to paint well with them like I sometimes do when using “real,” more expensive paints.

    • Author

      That’s awesome! So please you enjoyed Jen’s post! Thanks for commenting! 😃

  2. Sabiscuit 1 year ago

    Heart on crane is brilliant – abstract and rich with histories. Everyone can relate a story with this one. I adore mushrooms; yours are extra special. And that giant jellyfish is too cute.

    • Jen 1 year ago

      Thank you for the kind words!

    • Author

      Totally agree about the heart and crane, Sabiscuit! What a great description! Glad you liked Jen’s work! 😃

  3. Jodi 1 year ago

    awesome stuff – look forward to following your ART!

  4. Susan Feniak 1 year ago

    Such glorious colors! Sorry I am not on Instagram, yet. Thank you for sharing Jens work Charlie.

  5. Beautiful work Jen! and thank you Charlie for bringing her to our attention and sharing her work with us. 🙂

  6. YesterdayAfter 1 year ago

    Way to go Jen! Never say never, and like you said is ever too late! I am glad that you started and followed your heart and artistic talent! You are doing a great job with your watercolors keep going and never let go! Carolina

    Thank you Charlie very nice Feature!

    • Author

      Isn’t she great? Thanks so much Carolina! Glad you enjoyed Jen’s feature! 😃

      • YesterdayAfter 1 year ago

        Yes wonderful and with it a good message that is never too late…thanks Charlie!

    • Jen 1 year ago

      Thank you so much for your encouragement, Carolina. Following your heart is sometimes harder than it sounds like it should be, but it’s always worth it!

      • YesterdayAfter 1 year ago

        You’re welcome Jen and yes I know is harder sometimes at least if you try you can say I tried 😉 <3

  7. Jessica Seacrest 1 year ago

    Jen! Love, love your story! I am still on the journey to find my artistic voice too. Sometimes I think being all over the road is my voice! I figure roads and maps are meant for travel :). It’s been great following you and your beautiful paintings on Instagram!

    • Author

      Wise words my friend! So glad you liked Jen’s feature! 😃

    • Jen 1 year ago

      Jessica, thank you so much! It’s been lovely getting to know you on Instagram as well; your positivity and generosity really shine through. Let’s enjoy this “all over the map” phase for as long as it lasts – there’s so much freedom in it, and who knows where the roads will take us!

      • Jessica Seacrest 1 year ago

        Hi five on that one Jen!!

  8. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 1 year ago

    Wonderful that you found art again, Jen – you are quite talented to be able to do so much with inexpensive materials. You have an elastic and playful imagination and the results are beautiful.

  9. M. L. Kappa 1 year ago

    Good work, Jen! Carry on!

  10. memadtwo 1 year ago

    Mushrooms! similar to jellyfish I think. Good job! (K)

  11. Carol 1 year ago

    How lovely that creating gives you a feeling of peace and contentment. Like you, I know very well that it is never too late to start and am so happy that I finally put brush to paper. Great motto – process, not outcome, and I find that even when things don’t turn out as expected, I’ve learned at least one thing along the way, and I always have fun with it – well, most of time ;). Thanks for sharing your inspiring story and talents here, and I look forward to seeing more of your work on Instagram!

    • Author

      Thrilled you liked Jen’s story, Carol! I found it so inspiring as well! 😃

    • Jen 1 year ago

      Thank you so much for the kind response, Carol. It took awhile to cultivate a growth-oriented mindset towards my artistic practice, but better late than never!

  12. Jen, love your story. Similar to mine in that I didn’t do any fine art (did computer design) until later in life. The journey of learning, practicing, and finding my style has brought me so much joy. All the best to you on your journey! 😀

    • Author

      So glad you liked Jen’s story! Thanks Eileen! 😃

    • Jen 1 year ago

      Eileen, thank you for reading and taking the time to comment! Some days I get impatient and wish I already had my style and technique nailed down, but for the most part I’m being mindful about enjoying the journey! I’m so glad that finding fine art has brought you joy as well!

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