If you want to learn how to do something, seek out someone who knows more than you do, and ask them to teach you what they know. (And be sure to compensate them for their time and knowledge!) Most of time I’ve been learning from watercolor artists I’ve found online that I like. Just before Christmas last year, I had the opportunity to take a watercolor workshop locally from my friend, Mary Evelyn. I had fun learning more techniques and skills from her as I painted a cardinal in a water globe. She taught us wet-on-wet painting, wet-on-dry, how to paint different areas at a time to keep colors from bleeding (when you don’t want them to bleed), how to create beautiful textures with blending colors as well as with salt texturing. I learned so much that afternoon! It wasn’t long before I had the opportunity to teach what I had learned.
Shortly after, the grandkids were over and as usual wanted to make art. When the other kids moved on to other play, my seven year old granddaughter, quietly asked if she could paint a bird like mine. It was my opportunity to “teach what you learn” to an eager young artist. I gave her kid watercolor paper and she used the kids pan watercolors they had all just been painting with. She then spent the next two hours diligently working on her painting. She only asked me to help her draw the shape of the globe and the outline of the bird and then wanted to draw the rest herself. I walked her through the steps of painting the picture as I had learned them a few days earlier.
She was so proud of her painting! And so were the rest of us!
She asked if we could have more painting sessions with just her and me because she wanted to be an artist.
I purchased a set of tube paints, brushes, and good watercolor paper that would be just for her use. She loves pandas and after searching through multiple photographs of pandas, I picked a couple of shots to use as reference and painted a couple of samples for her to choose from. I love trying to figure out how to make watercolor look textured.
We planned a painting day and of course, when given the choice of which she wanted to paint the answer was BOTH! She decided to start on the peeking panda first.
I let her use the light table to trace the basic shapes on her paper on top of my painting, although watercolor paper isn’t very easy to see through. I wanted her to be able to concentrate on the painting and texture instead of being concerned about getting the shapes drawn proportional. I found out a lot of painters do that, so I don’t feel guilty! She draws all the time and can perfect those skills over time.
She’s very focused and had to be encouraged to take breaks!
Her finished panda painting is now framed and hanging in her bedroom.
Our next session together, she worked on the upside down panda in a tree. This time she insisted that I not touch her painting at all since last time I had demonstrated things to her in tiny spots on her painting. She only wanted me to use another piece of paper to demonstrate a technique. I was amazed how quickly she caught on.
And now she has another masterpiece framed and hanging in her livingroom.
I am learning more about watercolor painting all the time and feel I have so much more to learn. However, the little that I have learned, I can teach to someone who doesn’t know but wants to learn. I don’t have to be an expert first! My granddaughter told me she was happy I was teaching her and someday she said she will teach her own kids. I love her attitude! (And by the way, I accept grandkid hugs and kisses as compensation for sharing my love of art with them!)
What do you know? What are you learning? To whom can you teach what you learn?