Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Rediscovering Watercolour and a Promise


I've made a new promise to myself this week.  As part of stepping back and re-prioritising my little life, and making it better and easier on myself, I realised that during the self imposed busy~ness I'd created, I had also neglected to do something very enjoyable.


The realisation that I hadn't drawn in several weeks was a bit of a shock if I'm honest.  I'm an artist, I'm meant to draw, indeed I LOVE to draw!  I carry a tiny moleskine with me in my bag in case of emergency sketch missions, or if an idea comes to me for a painting or illustration whilst I'm out and about.  But even this has been left untouched.

As I realised how much time had gone by since I last drew or painted, I decided to make a promise to myself, and that was to try and draw at least one thing a day in one of my sketchbooks.  Now you might be reading this and thinking 'does she never learn??? - off she goes again, filling up her life with Stuff...won't be long til we're hearing about how tired and worn out she is etc, etc...(Yawn).'

I promise it's not like that.  This is a gift to myself, because I love making art and it's part of who I am.  Without it, I feel a little bit empty or lopsided.  It makes me whole.
So, for a few minutes a day, I am going to draw because it feels good to be in touch with that part of myself.  And if I get longer, I will paint too.  I can probably do a decent sketch of something in the time it takes to watch an advert on TV.

(brightened up in Photoshop - really like the effect of this)

Just this morning (after being inspired by Springwatch again) I decided to do a quick sketch of a little blue tit that was in my garden, sitting in the eucalyptus tree (which is sadly dead and needs cutting down following that extraordinarily cold winter).  The birds still like it though, and use it to cluster on with their offspring.  I was able to capture one little chap fairly quickly (you have to be fast when it's a live bird you are drawing) and render him in watercolour and ink.

Ah.  Watercolour and Ink.

I used to paint in watercolour very regularly, and then over the last few years I have been working in acrylics more or less constantly.  Now sadly, due to neglect or lack of use (which amounts to the same thing really) most of my watercolour tubes had dried up.  I know you can cut the tubes open to use, but I was feeling frivolous so I ordered myself some new ones (which I'm still waiting for and am going beside myself with excitement about).  However, there were still some that were useable, and my palette still had a few decent colours left on it too!

It's a strange feeling, using a different medium after spending so long with something familiar.  It's a bit like being back in the classroom again, learning and stretching yourself and watercolour is so different to acrylic paint.  The fluidity, the transparency...I'd forgotten just how delicate they can be, but I was soon in the swing of it again.  It's a wonderful paint medium and I think it's fun to step out of the box and test your levels of comfort with something forgotten or new. 

So I'm on my art journey again.  I feel much happier.  My days also seem extra spacious of late and I'm certainly feeling better for the changes I've been making.  I'm making time for healthy breakfasts (although I still need my coffee kick lol)...

...and little bursts of retail therapy (well, when we've been a bit over-run with stuff, and feeling fed up it's nice to cheer ourselves with a small treat, isn't it?)
So I was super delighted to discover this Sarah Smith apron on sale at just £2.50!

Which will complement this, when it arrives:

 (image from Amazon)

By all accounts, this book is one of the best of the moment.  I had a peep whilst I was in Waterstones at the weekend, and I knew it was one of those books that I Just Had To Have on my bookshelf.  You know the kind I mean.  If you click the Amazon link under the picture, you will be able to see some of the mouth watering treats inside!

Well - it's time for some lunch, might even manage to sneak in another crocheted flower in between bites of my sarnie!  The shawl/wrap is coming on great, I'm really pleased with it and it's nice to be using up some of those remnants of wool from my basket at last. 

Right, I'm away!  I look forward to catching up with you soon, sending love
Julia x


  1. Good to see you 'on your way' Julia! :) I too am using a medium I used to use a lot but feeling a little out of my comfort zone. I'm doing it the other way round from you, from watercolour to acrylic! I'm enjoying unsticking my old tubes and I feel your joy in waiting for yout new ones to arrive, very exciting! I look forward to seeing your new watercolour creations too!xx

  2. Good to know that you are feeling better. I like your little sketches very much. I always used to paint with watercolour and have never felt comfortable with acrylics or oils, odd how people like different things.

  3. hi, nice blog you've always got my friends list I follow the link to my friends list, please add I love you I'll be very happy..

  4. Isn't it funny how we sometimes don't have the time to do the things that make us 'us'. Great to see your lovely little sketch - are you still doing that moleskin sketchbook project? I'd love a little peak if you are!

  5. love the sketch. sometimes we have to reevaluate things.

  6. Such a good idea Julia - I must be more disciplined and try to sketch - I fear if I tried to draw a blue tit he would be long gone before I had even started!!! I suppose the secret is to have art stuff strategically placed around the house so that when the urge to sketch comes the materials are to hand!! x

  7. I loved seeing your beautiful litle bird watercolours - so sensitively painted. It's great to spend time on art - as you say, it's a part of you and helps you feel complete. Love your new apron too! (BTW we've got a eucalyptus tree too which looks dead - and probably is!) Have a lovely rest of the week, Julia and enjoy your creativity in a happy, relaxed way.
    Helen x

  8. love how you constantly reassess - no yawning from me!
    I like to do the same - usually after getting to breaking point - little cry, a re-juggle, bit of list making, a couple of promises and off we go again! (never quite as jolly as I've just described but you get the idea)

    I used to draw more often - maybe I'll get the water colours out this is how it all starts!!!

    Your sketches are adorable - glad you're back on track.

  9. Julia, great plans! I love simple things and your drawings are beautiful! And for preventing the colours from drying except using them is the pans - I am using watercolours in half pans instead of tubes and I have some of them for years (over 15), still working well. Like this Academie ones:

  10. Hello all of you! Thanks for dropping in today and saying Hi - and for all your nice comments.

    Colette, I'm sad to say the Sketchbook Project never really got off the ground, another fine example of over filling my time (will I ever learn that each day only has 24 hours, 8 of those for which I sleep???). I will have to keep giving you peeks into my current sketchbooks instead!

    The paints Ive just ordered are in pans, it's good advice though, I remember that they do last longer than the tubes so this is a set that will last for infinity (well, until I use them up that is lol).

    J x

  11. Hi Julia! I'm happy for you and I hope you can stop every day for a while to draw and paint! When seeing your beautiful birds made by water colours, I would like to catch my colours, too! I haven't learnt much how to use them, but I just love the way the water colours works!
    I feel now the same need to do something with fabric - even short time - but hopefully every day.
    Have a lovely summer time!
    xxx Teje

  12. Love your little drawings! So cute. Nice apron. I have some of her cloths. x

  13. I too am rediscovering a love of watercolours since joining the Being Creative group. I can't think why it took me so long!

  14. How gorgeous is that little water colour of the birds? SImply adorable Julia.

    You have inspired me to dig out my watercolours and have a go. Not being so good at drawing may be a slight disadvantage but the fun for me is in having a go and seeing what I come up with/

    I shall be back again for another visit and to see what you've been drawing.......

    Sweet Birdy Love

  15. Glad you have rediscovered water colour painting again. I have not done any watercolours since I gave up my art classes a year ago! I think a drawing a day is achievable. I may even pick up a sketch book and do the same! Take care of yourself Julia. x

  16. Oh for more space in my day - work takes up far too much time! Still loving your lovely lovely blog and I thought of you when I was on Porthmeor beach. xxxxx

  17. Hi Julia, I've not been in touch for a while, sad things happening ;( Lovely to see your watercolour sketches, they are lively and lovely all at the same time. I nearly always work in watercolour and have been asked to try acrylics (aaagh) scary. We should swap notes! Keep up the sketching, I might try that with the birdies, got a garden full of them, they seem so vulnerable! X Bye for now. Julie

  18. Glad you are finding the time to do something that makes you you Julia..its amazing how we sometimes bury it so far under the heap-of-stuff-that-has-to-be-done we don't realise its hidden!!
    Keep up the gifts to yourself
    Ali x

  19. You have so many goodies in this post I hardly know what to address...but that little bird touches my heart..I love your talent!

  20. Loving your little birds!!! I need to do something similar (not paint birds) I haven't sewn anything for days,lifes taking over , I need to get some sort of order and make time for my own stuff!!!

  21. Your promise to draw each day is like my 20 minutes promise to craft/sew for at least a 20 minutes every day last year. It's one of the best things I ever did, lol. I also feel incomplete or unsettled if I haven't crafted for a few days.
    Interesting to see how brightening your painting in photoshop alters it. The texture of the paper seems to vanish. I'm only noticing this now after trying to photocopy/scan my own work, what a nightmare! I gave up in the end and just went with the washed out photocopy, lol.


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