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.
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.
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.
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.”
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!
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. 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!