Embracing Watercolor + A Beginners Mind

I have a confession about watercolor. I’ve avoided embracing them. I thought of myself as a pastelist and oil painter. My domain was not watercolor. Of course, in retrospect, this makes no sense. Over the years as an illustrator, I did my share of work in watercolor and became a more than competent draftsman. As a pastelist, I’ve embraced watercolor as a foundational technique that adds spontaneity and exploration to my work.
What I’ve admired and aspired to more than anything else as an artist is a deep and habitual sketchbook habit. Rather than leaving stacks of canvas as a legacy, I’d rather leave shelves and shelves of sketchbooks/journals. My co-worker/editor, Kevin reminded me that I was indeed a watercolorist and encouraged me to pursue my sketchbooks. So, I started, feeling as though I was a beginner and approached it with a beginners mind; nothing to lose and everything to gain. As I dug deeper and deeper in, I realized that I had to share this in a workshop. If I felt this passionate about sketching, my students must too.
I approached the sketchbooks as a personal stomping ground. A place to play, express, explore and find inspiration. More than anything I’m reminded of the simplicity and pleasure I’ve always found in the noticing of life. Expressing consciousness in a quiet, contemplative way through art. There is no right or wrong way to do this. There is no bad drawing or painting. There is just drawing and painting.
Watercolor and a pen; it’s simple, uncomplicated, accessible. You can keep it private and hidden or you can share it with anyone who will look. A sketchbook can be a deep well or a moment of fascination.
Yes, you can work to learn how to draw better and to use watercolor to its best advantage. You can study design and calligraphy to make your pages more balanced and attractive. All of that is fun and I believe worthwhile, but prior to that comes the doing of it. You have to start, you have to keep going. The juice is in the mileage.

So, I would encourage you to check out my website and my new Watercolor Sketching workshop. I honestly believe in it’s simplicity and quiet power to help you open as an artist.

Happy Painting,

Marla

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6 thoughts on “Embracing Watercolor + A Beginners Mind”

  1. I’ve so enjoyed the class and the extra YouTube videos as well. You take the fear away for us and make it fun. This is one of the first online classes that I’ve purchased and feel,I got more than my monies worth. Thank you very much for sharing your gift.

  2. I am doing your Watercolor Sketching Journal workshop. I am Working from my own photos, mostly scenery but will start doing objects as well. I Want to thank you because I am really enjoying this and can’t wait to do more. I had some difficulty with the Strathmore journal which I liked because it was slightly larger but the paper is hard to work with. So I’m trying the Pentalic. And I ordered a larger Koi watercolor set (36 colors) so I hope they work.

  3. Hi Marla,. Sorry I can’t join your workshops (R/$ exchange rate ) so I can’t afford them but I am still an avid follower of your you tube lessons and live videos albeit late at night for us ! I live in South Africa and find very few artists use pastels so I learn a lot from YouTube videos . Please keep them coming !

  4. I am taking Marla’s sketchbook class and love it. I have taken other sketchbook classes but did not stick with the sketchbook. This time around I will try to keep on it. I am having a great time with my book. It is easy to carry and set up anywhere.

  5. Donnalee Stewart

    Absolutely LOVED The course. Watercolour as always a failed attempt at pitiful postcards sent home from vacation…. so bad I didn’t want to mail them to my kids and have to see again at home.
    But you made it EASY & FUN. When COVID is over I can’t wait to do travel journals. THANKS SO MUCH

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