WORLD WATERCOLOR MONTH: Reasons to Celebrate!

I’m always excited about guest posting for World Watercolor Month. A worldwide celebration of watercolor? Yes, please! This year as I thought about celebrating watercolor, and brainstormed ideas for July’s prompt list, I thought about our most significant celebrations; the ones that celebrate a dream come true, or a long-held goal realized. When I started painting, I dreamed of making beautiful art, and it is truly a dream come true to see glimpses of beauty that allow me to fall in love with my own paintings.

Starting out doesn’t always show much promise. I hoped to be a watercolor prodigy, but my growth has been much slower than I would have chosen. I found one of my very first watercolor paintings recently, after my grandmother passed away. Together with my family, we were going through the items left in her estate.

Grandma never wanted to leave us with a burden of stuff to dispose of, so she really had very little left, but she kept the important things. Notebooks where she’d copied out poetry, favorite books, her own paintings (she started oil painting at age 65 and was one of my first artistic mentors). And, tucked into a notebook, I found this notecard that I made when I was sixteen years old.

There’s not much to it; for watercolor, it’s about as basic as it gets. But I’m so thankful for this little keepsake because it’s just one of the thousands of paintings that has taught me watercolor and developed me as an artist.

When I think about celebrating watercolor this month, I also want to celebrate me. I wanted to paint, and so I started! I wondered if I could become a good painter, and instead of letting failed paintings discourage me, I kept painting. I started to notice signs of growth, and I let them propel me to the next painting, and the next.

I think about painting as a combination of passion and skill, and the process of painting is one of training and play. Like an athlete, no amount of training can take the place of a love of the game, and both are required for the athlete to reach their full potential. An athlete that doesn’t love their sport will get discouraged and quit when it gets hard; it takes passion to persevere.

If you are painting today, you get to celebrate your own perseverance! In watercolor, you have chosen a medium that requires both skill and magic. You get to be both a discoverer and creator of beauty. You choose to look for signs of the artist you want to become in each painting, and trust that the skills that need to be developed through hours of practice and training will happen as you exercise your brush. You bring your love and passion to the practice and allow that to shine through, and in that way, each of us can create art that is uniquely representative of who we are, and holds a promise of who we will become.

Here are some things to remember on the days you might not feel like celebrating your art:

  1. You are the only one who can paint your perspective. No one else is qualified!
  2. A willingness to persist through unexpected outcomes will develop in you a superhero ability to create new possibilities for the painting.
  3. There are no “have to’s” in art. Frame the painting or throw it away. Paint the sky blue, or paint it green. Use “correct” technique or break the rules. Show your painting on social media, or never show it to anyone. Be consistent in style, or change weekly. Paint for you first and don’t worry about what anyone else is thinking or doing.
  4. Have fun. In fact, here’s an assignment for you on this first day of World Watercolor Month:
    Ask yourself, “How can I paint today in a way that feels most like a celebration of my relationship with watercolor?”
    Do that. Do it your way!

I’m so thankful for Charlie O’Shields and his generosity in creating this month long celebration of watercolor. Charlie has always been an advocate for making watercolor a place of acceptance and freedom, accessible to everyone, regardless of skill, style or resources. Thank you, Charlie! If you’re feeling thankful for World Watercolor Month today, why not make a donation to the charitable partner, the International Child Art Foundation? Click here to find out more and donate

What are you celebrating about your art journey today? Share it below in the comments so we can celebrate with you!

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6 thoughts on “WORLD WATERCOLOR MONTH: Reasons to Celebrate!

  1. Yes, abundance makes me think of food, maybe a farm market where there is lots of produce piled up to show customers; or a big family dinner…

  2. I am celebrating my full return to art making. Now that my children are grown, I feel a freedom to focus on creating art I love especially in watercolor. I am celebrating meeting new creative friends and experiencing this journey together. Thank you Angela for your wonderful, inspiring words! Wishing everyone so much fun this month as we all celebrate World Watercolor Month!

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