July 11, 2019
If you’re looking for tips on How to Feel Like a More Confident Watercolor Artist, you’re in the right place friend! Keep reading to get the scoop on watercolor confidence 🙂
“Mine looks nothing like yours. I can’t do this.”, she muttered under her breath. I was walking around the classroom in my SkillPop Floral Watercolor class when I heard a woman (in the cutest blush-pink blazer eve!r) say this to herself.
Immediately, my heart fell.
We’d only just begun the class and already this bright and brave woman, who decided to step out of her comfort zone, try something *brand*spanking*new*, fight traffic in downtown Raleigh on a Tuesday evening after work for a watercolor class, was beating herself up.
I quickly announced to the entire class “Y’all, please don’t get discouraged if your first few attempts don’t show up on paper the way they did in your head!” Because it isn’t just a problem one person faced. Deep down, I know every student (and most days – even myself) occasionally feels discouraged about the way their creations are turning out.
I then shared with the class that I had been teaching a workshop to a tiny group of people at a church retreat. A woman in the group shared that she was struggling with the brushstrokes, too. After my usual pep talk, she got back to it. About a half hour later, I peered over her shoulder to see how it was going – and on her paper she had created the most beautiful dahlia flower ever! Instead of getting down on herself for struggling to recreate the rose I’d demonstrated, she took the brushstroke that I had taught her, and created an entirely different but equally (probably more-so!) beautiful painting.
I share that story with you because I want you to know, the imposter syndrome is real, and art is unique to you. You don’t have to be anyone else, create someone else’s work, or beat yourself up when you’re unable to recreate another look. While it’s fine to look at other artist’s work with admiration, learn basic techniques, and study their process, it’s an entirely different thing to start expecting yourself to match their creations, techniques or results. And your unique approach is worthy, valuable and enough.
So I put together a list of tips on how to create watercolor art with confidence, help you fight that imposter-syndrome, gain confidence in the work you’re creating (no matter what your level of experience) and share your creations with others to add beauty to their lives!
1. Stop Scrolling!
No – seriously! According to TIME Magazine, Instagram is actually the worst socal media platform for our self esteem! (Say whaaat?! Disclaimer – I’m not suggesting you hop off the ‘Gram altogether, just use it mindfully!) While it is great to get inspiration from others artwork and learn from them, when you start beating yourself up because your work doesn’t look exactly like theirs, you’ve definitely crossed a line. Be kind to yourself. I don’t say that in some maternal “everything you create is perfect” way, but instead want you to know, that even when your work is not at the level that you want it to be, simply acknowledge that that piece isn’t your favorite and learn from it. But for the love of all that is good, please don’t hop on Instagram or Pinterest and start looking at other artist’s highlight reels. For every piece of art posted on Instagram, there’s a recycling bin full of practice sheets and drafts that didn’t make the cut. Beautiful artwork doesn’t happen overnight, instantly, or every single time.
2. Be willing to critique yourself.
Instead of immediately feeling frustrated with what’s on the paper, put your paintbrush down, take a few deep breaths, get up for a cup of coffee, and come back with fresh eyes. Ask yourself:
What is it about this painting that I don’t like? The colors, the line work?
What could I do differently for next time?
Stepping back and asking yourself some objective, emotionally detached questions, will greatly improve your work and your watercolor confidence!
3. Overcome your fear of failure.
The biggest hurdle with how to create watercolor art with confidence is the mental obstacles we have when it comes to fear of failure. The blank sheet staring back at you before you begin painting can be overwhelming and make you want to stop before you even start. Fight through it. Challenge yourself to just start, and if you make a mistake, keep going. In the immortal words of Bob Ross, “We don’t make mistakes. Just happy little accidents.” It’s true! If you have an accident, learn from it. And keep going. It’s as simple as that!
4. Social support rocks.
There are so many virtual groups that will support you! I’m in quite a few on Facebook, and they’re safe places you can share your work at any stage, get input, and learn from others. You can also check to see if there are any local meet-ups in your area for artists in your medium or expertise level.
5. Learn for life.
Commit to being a life-long learner. “I’m not artistic” is such a lie! Every single person has artistic capabilities, and it’s a learned skill, just like anything else. There’s so much muscle memory, and fundamental basics like math and science in creating art – and it all is out there, simply needing to be learned. And yes, it’s a lot. And it will take you a lifetime. It’s a journey, and you will always be learning and improving. But the beauty is that it’s a rewarding journey and one you won’t regret.
I have a closet full of old (rough) work from when I first started, that I can look at and see my excitement and eagerness to learn. But, I was definitely rushing the process and trying to achieve difficult things without evaluating where I even was in terms of my skills. I’d then get disappointed with myself when it didn’t look like the tutorial I was following. But with time, and plenty of practicing the basics, my skills grew. And they’re still growing. A lot of the time I’m not where I *want to be*, but I know that with time, patience and reflection, there will definitely be progress!
And because I believe in surrounding myself with visual reminders, I put together a few of the quotes from this post in order to encourage you with your watercolor confidence, and I designed them as desk printables! Print them out on cardstock and place them in the various places you practice your artwork. Remind yourself of these truths from the great masters, who started from scratch, too!
I’d love to see how you’re using them – tag me on instagram at @thiscreativenest and I’ll spotlight you in my stories!