How does one tame the lioness that is watercolour?
Well, truth be told, I’m still figuring out this beautiful (and sometimes rather unforgiving) medium myself.
I decided to pick up a moderately priced starter kit because I’ve seen some striking illustrations on the internet that have utilized the fluidity of watercolours and thought, how hard could it be, right?
Well it turns out, that it is actually super hard. Especially for a beginner. And there is absolutely no doubt that your first few tries will absolutely suck. When this happens, do not give up. I promise you that those first few sucky attempts that you never want anyone else to see are completely normal!
I’ll hold my hands up and say that yes, I did think about setting my beginners kit on fire and retreating to my sofa to drown my sorrows in a bucket of buttery mashed potatoes. But here’s the thing, it’s totally normal to feel this kind of impatience… Right?
Well, my response might have been a little much, but according to this article on Josh Kaufman’s 20 hour theory, it states that:
“Most of us are deeply disturbed at the prospect of being horrible at something, even temporarily. When you try something new, you’re usually very bad, and you know it. The easiest way to eliminate that feeling of angst is to quit practicing and go do something else, so that’s what most of us do.”
Furthermore, he goes on to say that, by pushing through this initial suckiness (that is the technical word for it, I believe) we improve dramatically within the first few hours of attempting our new skill.
Also, if you plan on committing, it helps to ditch the idea of spending x amount of hours mastering something. Just thinking about spending 10,000 hours of your life ‘mastering’ something will make you feel dizzy, depressed and inadequate.
Besides, how does one even measure ‘mastering’? According to Kaufman, the 10,000 hour estimate is normally used to describe mastering a skill at a world class level.
I don’t know about you, but if you are a lowly and humble being like I, you’d be quite happy just being pretty good at something.
So with that in mind, go forth and try new things. When you stop looking for the finish line, you will realize that the beauty of mastering a skill is not mastering it at all, but by continuously improving and learning and being proud of every step you take in the right direction.
If you have the desire to do, the will to persist and the patience to screw up; you can accomplish anything. (Youtube tutorials are also a GOLDMINE of resources.)
If you are having trouble with watercolours, then I’d recommend this brilliant tutorial written by Alina Chau, the writer and illustrator of Pickle the Bird Who Doesn’t Tweet. Her tips and hints are perfect for achieving that dreamy and soft children’s book aesthetic, and perfect for watercolour beginners. A*!