Crayons were the very first art supplies that I ever had. Well, these are actually a new set I got recently because I felt like playing with crayons again. Back then, I didn’t think of them as art supplies. They were just a super fun way to color things and have a bit of play. And, of course, anything I made back then was more than art. It was a masterpiece beyond comparison. I remember the feeling of pride I felt each time I completed one of my coloring pages. And honestly, not that much has changed today. I’m still a coloring book artist. Only now, I make my own drawings first, so it’s way cooler that way. And the way I use watercolor is probably a bit closer to the way I use crayons. I use very little water and paint a bit backwards, usually from dark to light. Then I blend things with a drop of clear water and happily pronounce it complete! Only today, I don’t have my mom nearby to proclaim each one a masterpiece. And no matter how I try to fight it, I’ve grown up enough to recognize when one is better than the other. But, the feeling of DOing it? Completing a little coloring page each and every day? That’s no different at all. I still get a surge of happiness and a thrill of victory each and every time.
Philippe informed me when he saw me playing with crayons that he never liked them, not even as a kid. I was, of course, perfectly aghast at first, but I sort of got what he meant. The colors aren’t smooth and you can’t really blend them together easily. But, I was having fun playing with them to see what effects I could achieve. When I was done with my crayon masterpiece, it was decidedly in the very same style of my watercolors only without the smooth blended bits. It was comforting to know that my style has been with me since I was a kid, only the techniques and tools have changed along the way. And I realize that I probably had to agree with Philippe. Crayons always lacked something for me. That very something that I discovered the first time I tried watercolor. I wanted to mix colors and blend them smoothly. I adored the magic of watercolor and being able to use just three colors to make hundreds. It was truly amazing! But, I didn’t gravitate toward traditional watercolor painting. Instead, I stuck with my coloring book, well… my sketchbook, which I call my watercolory book, and have enjoyed every little thing I’ve made appear there! Even the ones that I felt didn’t turn out as expected.
My mother usually always has a little pack of crayons on the table at family gatherings. Sometimes the entire table is covered in butcher paper so we can all color to our heart’s content. Perhaps this explains my own love of coloring things and color in general. It’s been a family tradition my entire life. We’ve had so much fun coloring together. And what I adore most is that the only expectation is to make something pretty or at least colorful on a piece of paper. No pressure to succeed at anything more than simply doing that. That’s how I approach my own daily sketchbook practice. Sure, it would be awesome if a masterpiece appeared, but the real masterpiece is my own dogged determination to always show up and make something in the first place. That’s the beautiful bit that’s sometimes harder than it looks. But, even with the slightest amount of time, I’ve always managed to DO it and I hope each of you out there will try the same! Life is never better than when we consistently make space in it for a bit of creativity. Whether it’s splashing watercolors around on paper or reliving days long past and, once again, playing with crayons.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Nickel Azo Yellow, Benzimida Orange, Quinacridone Red, Opus, (Vivid Pink), Leaf Green, Terra Cotta, Vermilion, Cobalt Turquoise, Cobalt Blue, and Indigo. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Recommended6 recommendationsPublished in
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!