The other day I was asked to share my thoughts on using watercolors. By one person. Which, as we all know, is a hefty slice of the readership here at Tollipop.
As much as I'd love to say something brilliant, any advice which comes to mind makes me cringe, as it's either painfully self evident or likely bad information.
Actually, here's a little gem I discovered the hard way: when painting backgrounds, start with the farthest back layer and work your way forward. Otherwise, you'll find yourself realizing the tree that's supposed to be behind the vine is not, and now you want to break your emergency swear vial!
Other than that, what do I know about watercolors? Pretty much nothing.
I do know this: I've peered in on the world of visual art my entire life. I've pressed my face against its glass until my breathing clouded the view and still I've stood there, watching in wonder and awe. I've loved my Prismacolor pencil crayons, a gift I received for my 16th birthday, which tells you something about the kind of 16 year old I was (the kind who didn't get asked to prom). I hoarded those pencils, gazing upon them in a hushed ardor reserved for rare, religious antiquities. Throughout my childhood I was kept busy doing other things, so drawing was a secret and soothing outlet I sought in quiet moments, often late at night when I had time to myself.
What did I draw? This girl. Or variations of her, over and over again. But I never dreamed I had artistic talent, or that I was even allowed to broach the sleek, marbled halls of such a pursuit. I have some ideas as to why I thought this way (without even realizing it) but regardless, it wasn't until one summer break as a college student that I purchased a small palette of watercolors and felt terribly bold in so doing.
This is the point I want to discuss: why did it take me so long to pursue an interest which had beckoned to me all the years of my life? Why did I feel I needed some official sanction to buy those watercolors and brush them across a piece of paper?
Why do I still feel hesitant, as if I'm trespassing upon a world only certain people may inhabit?
The thing is, dear reader, if you're waiting for some external nudge, some grant of permission to embark upon exploring an interest...you might be waiting a long time. If you need people to believe in you or encourage your pursuit, you might be deeply disappointed. If you make an initial attempt to pursue your interests, then allow the realization you can't paint a background convince you of your unworthiness to continue...well, the very thought makes me want to break another emergency swear vial!
My husband has an uncle who is very dear to me, who reminded me all art is of value when it comes from the heart. He sent me a quote...I can't recall it at the moment...but it expresses the idea each person to walk this earth is an individual, endowed with creative expressions unique to his or her soul. If you don't develop what is within you, no one else can, and the world will be more or less enhanced depending on your willingness to share.
Having said that...yes. It is lovely and advisable to seek guidance for the endeavors which interest you. But where that might not be possible in the moment, and where you have access to a pen and paper, a tube of paint, your singing voice, some soil and seeds, a crochet hook, a sewing machine, the ingredients for a cheesecake, a power saw, a pair of running shoes...whatever your interest may be: TAKE IT UP.
If a creative endeavor intrigues you, I believe that means something. Perhaps you're interested for a reason. I don't know that the reason needs to be grand, like you're meant to paint the next Sistine Chapel. Maybe it simply brings deep, personal satisfaction. Maybe it resonates with one other person. If it comes from your heart, that is reason enough. It's an expression of your soul, and you will be happier when you begin to explore it.
Yesterday I painted a background for the first time. It was rather unnerving, as I expected to mess up completely. As it happened, I did not mess up completely, I only messed up partially. And in so doing, I learned messing up is part of the process, perhaps even part of the result. You can't abandon your work when something goes wrong...you have to hang in there, you have to keep trying, you have to believe.
Perhaps you'll end up with something you didn't anticipate but quite like, after all.