Watercolor Adventures

Trying Watercolors, for the first time since grade school.

About two years ago I bought a started set of watercolor in tubes, good quality, professional watercolors.  I brought them home excited to use them, put them into my closet, and left them. They never saw the light of day again until just a few days ago.

Here’s how they finally escaped the closet.  I was on my way to the first Saturday Art Walk in Port Orchard Washington, when I realized that I had forgotten to bring anything to work on. No paints, no book to read, I did have my sketch book, but I knew I felt like painting.  So I stopped by a store on my way and bought a tablet of Canson watercolor paper, a pack of brushes, and a rather cheap set of watercolors.  I figured I was just playing around so the cheap set was fine.

Subject of opportunity, A lamppost

During the art walk I looked across the road at a light post adorned with flowers, and started painting it.

The lampost I decided to paint.  First time using watercolors since grade school, and I didn't even have a pencil to sketch it in first.
The lampost I decided to paint. First time using watercolors since grade school, and I didn’t even have a pencil to sketch it in first.


Lots of time to play paint

The Artwalk lasts 3 hours, but I had a lot of things to set up so I began my setup almost 2 full hours before the Artwalk starts.  Here is what I had to set up:

Port Orchard Art Walk
My table and display gates at the Port Orchard Artwalk.

Anyway, I started setup early, but it didn’t take as long as I thought, so I had a half hour to kill before it started, what all this amounts to, is me saying that I had a lot of time to keep playing with the watercolors, so I kept working on the lamppost throughout the Artwalk, except when I was interacting with the general public who came to see the art.

Port Orchard Artwalk
I continued working, but with the work balanced on my lap, I didn’t notice that the lamppost was being bent.

In spite of the bent post, I decided I liked the results I was getting with the watercolors, and I was eager to see what would happen if I took out my good quality set.

When I got home that evening I started working on another painting using the cheap set.  I was tired though, and it was late and getting dark, making it hard to see the scene I was trying to paint.  To top it off, I failed to choose a central focus for my painting, so I’m afraid it didn’t turn out very good.

watercolor landscape
This was only my second attempt at watercolor painting after not touching them since grade school. It isn’t great, but its not that bad considering.


Trying the REAL Watercolors.

That night, I filled my watercolor try from my good watercolor tubes.  My plan was to try painting with them the next day.

The next day, I decided to paint a greeting card with my good set.

Watercolor Greeting card, hummingbird
My hummingbird greeting card

Every day since then, I’ve been painting  a greeting card with a bird on it.  Here is what I have so far:

watercolor greeting card
This card shows an orange breasted sunbird.
Watercolor greeting card, painting bunting
This card features a painted bunting, which is one of the most colorful birds in the world. I see it as proof that God came up with Fauvism long before the fauvists came along.


Advantages to using watercolors.


I’m having fun with these greeting cards, and I’m discovering  several advantages to watercolors.

First, the are less expensive.  The paint stretches a long way, and traditionally they are painted on paper, which costs considerably less than canvas, even when you are buying the high quality art paper I’ve been buying, it is still less expensive than canvas.

Second, the give me the results I’m trying to get on skies.  I seem to be able to paint a sky much easier with watercolors.

Third.  Clean up is easy.  Forget to rinse a brush?  No problem, the paint will still was out, this is not the case with acrylics.  Smear some on the table, again, no problem.


So, while I still plan to work in acrylics at times, I have found a new medium that is at least AS fun, if not more fun to use.

I'm trying Watercolors for the first time since grade-school, I think I like them! Click To Tweet

6 Responses to Watercolor Adventures

  1. I do love painting with watercolor! At first, I found them a bit intimidating because it is not an especially forgiving medium. All of those overworked paintings from attempting to fix mistakes. I was ready to chuck the watercolor and go back to working only with colored pencils! But then I got adjusting to painting and to working around the things that I perceived to be mistakes. Sometimes, the mistakes were just what the painting needed! Thank you for this post. Also… I love the birds!!!

    • I find them more forgiving than I expected, I had been told how hard they were work with, and that left me reluctant to try them, but I find them to be easier than I expected. Not as forgiving as acrylics, but still very workable. 🙂

  2. I bought some watercolor tried them wasn’t sure if I liked them
    but you are making me want to try them again
    I love your greeting cards and painting

  3. I use acrylics, but I thin them down so they work a lot like watercolors. I haven’t used proper watercolors in years. But kudos to you for fearlessly jumping into a new(ish) medium and running with it!

    • Do you just thin the acrylics with water, or with glazing medium or what? I’ve been warned by several pro artists, one of whom is a teacher at an art college, not to thin down acrylics with water unless you are painting on paper. Apparently, thinning can cause under-binding, which can cause the paint to flake off years later. However, on paper the process is a little different, you actually stay the paper fibers, but with primed canvas the paint sticks to the canvas, rather than absorbing much, therefore if the paint is thinned too much with water, it will not adhere long term.