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GUEST ARTIST: “Slowing Down and Becoming a Mindful Observer with Watercolors” by Mou Saha

Hello, my name is Mou Saha and becoming an artist was quite an unexpected adventure for me. Born and raised in India, I studied to become a clinical psychologist. Art was introduced to me by my mother when I was two as a means of keeping me safely engaged and entertained while she was busy taking care of our extended family. I was an only child and art became a refuge and a companion for me. I come from a long line of women who were very creative in their unique ways as homemakers but none of them ever mused over taking up a creative profession. My life, however, required me to step up into artisthood regardless of all my doubts.

When my marriage brought me to the States, I was looking forward to resuming the PhD work I had started back home. But life had other plans for me. As a young mother, I was relieved to find a creative outlet in scrapbooking which was a very popular hobby at the time. My work began to be published in print magazines and books and over the course of the next eight years, I tallied some eight hundred publications to my name. I began to teach classes around the States, in Europe as well as online.

I experimented with different mediums and became fond of mixed media art. With three children, a dog and a traveling husband, I learned to harness time into small pockets throughout the day to be creative. I always carried a notebook and a pencil to jot down ideas, make quick doodles and write out thoughts while my children played or brushed teeth, while I waited to pick up the kids and while food cooked.

When they all fell asleep, I pulled out my art journal and spilled all my feelings out in colors, images and words. These journals were for my eyes only and provided me a safe haven and feeling of home that I had experienced as a child.

When I went on family vacations or on solo teaching trips, I always carried with me a mixed media sketchbook that could handle both wet and dry mediums and a set of Goldfaber watercolor pencils from Faber-Castell. I drew whatever caught my eyes. I loved drawing the food I ate, the things I saw, souvenirs, small scenes, etc. I scribbled in the colors to my drawings with the watercolor pencils and moved on to the next page till I had the chance of turning them into watercolor sketches. I came home with a filled-out sketchbook from each trip. I noticed that observing and drawing made me feel calm and peaceful.

When we moved to Garden State New Jersey, I was blown away by the nature all around me – the trees, flowers, birds, animals, the beautiful vistas, quaint towns and weekend farmer markets. I began drawing what I saw and they became part of the five coloring books I published.

I go on long walks as often as I can and I notice everything – from the clumps of moss on the ground, the rusty farm equipment, feathers on the grass, fallen wasp nests, weathered bird feeders, dry hydrangea flowers flying around on windy days, large mushrooms that pop up right after the rain and much more. During the pandemic lockdown, I walked many miles amidst tall grasses and empty trails and just observed. It brought me a sense of stability in an uncertain world. Sometimes I sat down on trail rests with a few Albrecht Durer Watercolor pencils from Faber-Castell and sketched.

The Pan Watercolors set became my constant companion on the go. I worked in layers and combined the Pan watercolors with the Watercolor pencils to create textures. This slowing down and noticing and the extra attention that it requires to capture those observations in lines and colors, keep me centered in the present moment which I find to be an invaluable wellness practice for myself and could be so for anyone else who chooses it.

Mou Saha
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14 thoughts on “GUEST ARTIST: “Slowing Down and Becoming a Mindful Observer with Watercolors” by Mou Saha

  1. Hello Ms. Saha,

    Your art and journey are truly inspiring. You’re not only a captivating artist but an equally engaging writer too. 🙂


  2. Mou Saha your story is amazing — and if you really want to see verdure and nature at its very best (okay I am being arrogant here ) come to BC Canada’s Okanagain and bring your art tools. The vista is absolutely stunning.

    Smart woman your mother to get you started at such an early age. Thank you for your story — your work is lovely and so is your idea of painting everything you see.

    1. Writerleenda, let’s hope that I get to experience Okanagan. I have only been to the Niagara Falls. Even though we were mostly touristing, I was very captivated by the water. I sat there just listening to the water.

  3. Thank you for sharing your beautiful painting and story. My own walks experiences are exactly like yours! Captivated by everything I see. This encouraged and calmed me to paint more freely. Sincerely yours, mari beth

  4. I was in the process of moving 11 months ago–having just sold our home and I missed your artwork when it first appeared. It was lovely to hear your story and “join” you on your journey! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and your art.

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