SPECIAL FEATURE: Embracing Your Fears

Cheers to those who show up to try what’s new to them, even when fear is presenting itself!

On a beautiful sunny August afternoon in Tucson, Arizona, I facilitated an art journaling watercolor workshop and I saw this “trying what’s new” in so many ways.  The lovely shop where the workshop was hosted– The Ninth House, was newly opened this year by an inspired first-time business owner.  The women who attended the workshop were new to watercolor.  It was my first time teaching about anything.  A heartfelt thank you to all the friendly faces that showed up!

This article will share a little bit about my experience and observations, go over the supplies, swatches and such, and share a few of the participants’ inspiring work.

What made this workshop special, was that Doodlewash and a couple of companies helped me out by generously sponsoring products.  This enabled everyone to take home a fully stocked quality watercolor sketching kit, everything needed to keep keepin’ on with the watercolor adventure.

Rule of Thumb

When considering and buying art supplies, use what you have and buy the best you can afford.  If art journaling, sketching, painting and creating is something you want to stick with, purchasing higher quality supplies up front will save you money in the long run.  Often, when people buy cheaper and lesser quality, they eventually want to upgrade. Buy the better artist quality from the beginning, and you are all set.  Watercolor lasts a long time, a little goes a long way.  It’s worth the investment, and so are you.  Another point to consider, sometimes people have cheap quality supplies and get frustrated that their watercolor isn’t looking as luminous as they see in other people’s paintings.  Some of it has to do with supplies, not just technique or skill.  With all this said, always use what calls to you and what feels best!

I believe that you and your creativity are worth investing in.


A Few Things I Learned + Observations

I get so excited sharing about watercolor and supplies!  I let that excitement carry me through the nerves of this first-time workshop, because doing this was a big stretch for me.  I didn’t really know what to expect, and it ended up not being like any ideal I may have had anyhow.  I’m aware of some changes that need to be made that will help me if I move forward with other workshops.  Like keep things basic, be super clear about what is being offered, and have people exploring the paint while you are talking.  I talked first, then got into the paints, this wasn’t the best way to go.  Ten people in a workshop means ten different experiences.  People surprised me in a number of ways, filled me with awe with their open-hearted enthusiasm, diversity of vision, how they approach things, and what they find inspiring.

One thing I learned about myself, was how much information I’ve picked up and learned over the past few years by being diligent with this watercolor hobby, and by blogging about it.  A huge thing that came out of this experience, is how to take criticism.  Respecting other people’s experiences by listening openly.  Then taking a step back to consider what was offered and what felt true to better myself and improve what I offer, and throw the rest out.  Especially the I’m not good enough to be doing this story in my own head.


It’s good to ask yourself why you want to teach/facilitate anything and be honest about the answers that come up from that inquiry.  I checked in with myself about this workshop, and my heart is in the right place.  It felt like the right direction to go in for personal growth.  You know, giving of oneself, sharing what you know, facing fears, vulnerability and such.

Much like in dreams, I feel that our emotions, intuition, subconscious, larger aspects of ourselves, will speak to us through imagery and artistic expression, and that it is important to allow ourselves to explore creativity.  Because we get skilled at stuffing those important aspects of ourselves down, ignoring them, or distracting ourselves. There are many things that will be revealed to us if we allow for creative exploration and pay attention– look deeper.  Only the individual can interpret these things for themselves, the answers are within.  Creating anything– painting, sketching, music, dancing, writing, sculpture, cooking, knitting, whatever inspires– gets us out of our mundane, everyday thoughts (programs we run) and places our attention into the realm of possibility, in the now— this is where the magic happens.  We are naturally creators, every single one of us.  I feel a pull to encourage others in their creative explorations. This is part of my why.

Some Other in a Nutshell Thoughts

Fear + heightened interest/passion= DO IT.  Overthinking = inertia.  Inertia is the killer of dreams.  Somebody wants and values what you have to share.  Imperfections are gifts in ways we don’t realise.  Start where you are, and go from there, one step, one movement, one inspiration at a time.  Everything is a process, and it unfolds as we go.  These are things we all know, but forget in moments of contraction and doubt.  Have faith in yourself and your process.  Open your heart.


Bring some candy, or something sweet for people.

In general.  Have some fun!   Laugh when you miss the mark, or other such things.  Like this swatch below that I was using for demo purposes.  In my enthusiasm, I kept on stampin’.  Give the left brain a rest sometimes, it works so hard.  I try my best to rejoice in this kind of thing, because like many of us, I’m prone to too much left brain function, overthinking and things needing to be logical.  Thinking things to death does not feel good and sucks the life out of our creativity.  Being in enthusiasm and flow feels optimistic, it feels good!  Splash some paint around!

Swatching on the first page in a journal is a great way to break it in.


You know it’s a labor of love when you are willing to label, attach magnets (that had to be cut to size), and hand fill this many watercolor pans—and you liked it.  Ha!  66 pans. My thumbs were a little sore the next day 🙂


Sponsors + Supplies

Hahnemühle Fine Art provided A6 watercolor books.  These are great to sketch in.  If they look familiar, Charlie uses Hahnemühle for his daily Doodlewashes, and other Doodlewashers use them too.  Here’s a review on their sketchbook, watercolor books, and papers.

Doodlewash provided the waterproof Pigma Micron Pens.  And everyone got a Doodlewash button.  Love the button.


Da Vinci Paint Co. provided the artist quality watercolors. After a bit of consideration, I chose six colors from a limited palette that guest Doodlewash artist Jane Blundell shares on her blog.  There is generous information on her blog about watercolor, swatches and mixing.



The Da Vinci colors used:

  • Arylide Yellow
  • Quinacridone Gold
  • Alizarin Crimson Quinacridone
  • Ultramarine
  • Phthalo Green
  • Burnt Sienna

I loved all the range of greens, turquoise and sky color that this palette mixes.


On a side note, Da Vinci Paint Co. has a 12 full pan watercolor travel tin for $56.  I have one of these and love it, here’s a review.  The price is great.  They also have artist inspired tube sets starting as low as $19.95, you might see some names you recognize!

A big thank you to all of these sponsors for making this workshop possible.

I added in a few other essentials– a natural/synthetic mix round paintbrush, a multi-purpose clip, mixing palette, along with hand poured magnetized full pans in an Altoids type tin and included a swatch card on 90 lb. Arches watercolor paper.  All zipped up in a waterproof travel bag. Nice sweet little set up.  Plus an in depth reference handout, and some watercolor paper samples for people to explore at home, because paper makes a big difference.  I enjoy and find benefit in working with flower essences, so also included a flower essence that helps facilitate the process of creativity.  It’s called Creativity Formula and is made by Desert Alchemy flower essences here in Tucson.

A few pictures shared from workshop attendees.

So much diversity of expression!  I love these!


A bit more on sharing, inspiration from others and paying it forward.

Part of what makes Doodlewash.com special, is the community of artists and sharing.  Seeing Charlie post his Doodlewash everyday, has kept me going.  I’ve learned immensely from other people.  This has saved me from figuring some things out by trial and error.  For some reason, I’ve always found grid type watercolor mixing charts intimidating.  Maybe because it seems the ones that I have seen online look huge, with lots of squares.  This overwhelms me.

Then I found the perfect mixing chart for this palette.  Tonya of Scratchmade Journal shares about a few different sized charts on her blog with instruction on creating a watercolor mixing chart.  She offers a free blank printable version of this chart, so that you can print your own on watercolor paper.  Super helpful!  So, I made my first ever mixing chart to have it for sharing in the workshop. Thank you Tonya! You can find her Doodlewash guest artist feature here.

Chart printed on 90 lb./185 gsm Arches cold press watercolor paper.


If you too are embracing your fears when it comes to expressing your creativity, a great reminder is the Doodlewash Manifesto!

The Do's & Do's of The Doodlewash Manifesto

Happy painting and sketching.

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32 thoughts on “SPECIAL FEATURE: Embracing Your Fears

  1. Jessica, you did a great job and thanks for sharing with us who have thought about teaching but still sit on the sidelines. Would love to know where you got the cute tube stamp you used. It looks as if everyone had a great time.

    1. Hi Dottie, thanks so much. Offering you so much encouragement! Hugs!

      Ahh, the tube stamp! It’s made by an artist named Lin Chia Ning, she’s on Instagram. I believe she lives in Taiwan. She makes a lot of stamps that are unique. She sells from her website, it sells out quick, but also other online retailers sell her things. Her washi tape is also beautiful, and other interesting things she makes. I can’t remember what site I got the stamp from though. Hopefully a few come up on a search.

    1. Ahh, the tube stamp! It’s made by an artist named Lin Chia Ning, she’s on Instagram. I believe she lives in Taiwan. She makes a lot of stamps that are unique. She sells from her website, it sells out quick, but also other online retailers sell her things. Her washi tape is also beautiful, and other interesting things she makes. I can’t remember what site I got the stamp from though. Hopefully a few come up on a search.

  2. I enjoyed this! I started teaching art journaling about 5 years ago. Just like you, no experience in teaching it. Just a passion for it. It is amazing how easy it is to teach something when you love it and want to share. Yes I have learned a lot along the way….good and bad. I have also made many wonderful friends too. I love teaching just as much as I do working on it.

  3. Love your take on how the creative process lets us tap in the now and opens our access to our intuitions and subconscious selves. That is why I love it so. How lucky for those students to get such great goodie bags! …and you!

    1. Thanks Karen! I was grateful to be able to provide the goodie bags. Figuring out supplies is a big deal, and a confusing place with all that’s available, and figuring out what’s marketed to us out there when you’re new (or even not so new) to the hobby.

  4. Jessica, thanx for the encouraement! I am teaching a class for the NYCUSK next weekend, and although I teach privately, this is different. I did a check for why, and I am hoping my heart being in the right place will oversee
    the class.

  5. Oh my goodness….I would love to find a class like this in San Diego! I’m trying to get into watercolor and have many many fears! If you ever do another like that in Tucson, I might be interested in attending!

    1. Hi Julie! I hope you are able to get your watercolor on and have some fun with it! The thing that comforted me a little (and still does) was having lots of paper, or more than one sketch/watercolor book. I feel like it keeps the pressure off, because I had plenty of room to practice, and didn’t have the lack mentality coming in– of this has to look good because I will waste paper. I like having an Aqua Bee Deluxe or a Canson XL Multi-Media book. They are inexpensive and have lots of pages to splash paint around and experiment. Two of my favorite things I ever painted are in each of those books. They are nothing grand, but I love them. I also have had the same small “scribble book” for years that is full of scribble marks from different pens, testing them out, getting them to work, and quick ideas sketched in pencil and such. My best to you! You can so do this! <3

  6. Jessica, it’s so nice to hear from you again. I really enjoyed this post, seeing how much you experimented and how generously you gave of yourself to the workshop participants. The inclusion of candy, dried flowers, and scent reveals the total experience you encouraged the participants to explore. Thanks for wonderful ideas and a fresh approach.

  7. Thank you for sharing your experience with your first workshop Jessica! It’s especially helpful to read about how other artists are feeling out new things as well, and how they react to, reflect on, and grow from that experience. I’m going to keep your perspective on new experiences in mind during the next few weeks. Instead piling on self-critical overanalyzing of how a successful artist would act during an art reception, I will try and focus on just enjoying the experience of sharing my art in a new way!

  8. Hey there, Jessica! We moved two weeks ago so I’ve been a bit out of things, but I just saw your post yesterday and wanted to thank you for the shout out. I’m really glad you found my download useful, but I’m really really glad that you accepted the challenge and did the workshop! Wow, I love how you advised others to have fun and “laugh when you miss the mark.” We all have these preconceived ideas in our minds how things should go, and well, they rarely (never?!?) go that way. Glad you had a blast, learned something new, and shared your mad skills with others. You rock! And seem like a natural born teacher. 😉 Thanks again and happy painting!

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