Earlier last month I got the urge to pull out my watercolor brush markers again. I started playing with various watercolor markers and pencils, etc. this year and mostly found myself annoyed with it not looking how I saw the pictures in my head. Either there was too much water or not enough – the paper pilled (especially when I wasn’t using watercolor paper) or the colors wandered. Or it just sort of looked like an eight year old was playing with markers. I lost interest. I’m not an artist.
Then I got bored enough one day to try again and somehow luck and timing resulted in something I actually liked. What??
Finally finding success with the medium, I had to see if lighting could strike twice. It took a few tries, but eventually I did make another one that was good enough to please my inner artist.
Of course in between these two pretty flowers were a couple of other pictures I didn’t like as much, but now I was intrigued enough to keep going. I started painting something every day – sometimes a couple of pictures a day. Especially if I didn’t love the first one. I tried to end with something I liked, at least a little. Eventually I filled a notebook and had to buy more paper. At this point I think we can safely say I have a new hobby.
There are still things I don’t love about basically all of these pictures. There still seems to be a fair amount of dumb luck when they come out good enough to post to social media. There are still so many happy accidents, or less happy. But look at me discovering a new hobby and suddenly becoming less likely to say, “Whatever, I’m not an artist.”
Two days ago I went to one of those Paint Night events with a friend – you know the ones where you order a glass of wine (or a glass of cherry coke if you are a light weight like me who has to drive herself home later) and an instructor walks you through painting some gorgeous and totally intimidating looking painting. I’ve gone to several of these now and I freaking love them. Even though up until a minute ago I would never call myself an artist and possibly five minutes from now I might do it again because imposter syndrome is strong in this one – I still always manage to bring home a painting that I am proud of.
Anyway, after a month of playing with watercolor, it was weird going back to acrylic paint. I was a total newbie all over again, following the instructor step by step and step by step going “What?” or “What direction should I hold my brush?” or “Wow that wasn’t what I meant to do,” or “So that just happened,” or “I think my brush is like wrong and broken,” or “Am I doing this right?” I’m a real whiny painter. My friends must love my company.
And to be honest, when I finished painting and took my picture up to be photographed with my painting partner and crime / gal pal (People still say Gal Pal right?), I wasn’t really thrilled with it. I was still looking at all the things that didn’t go according to plan and they weren’t happy accidents yet – they were just normal, boring mistakes. I was telling myself what an amateur I am and look at all those other painters who “did it right.”
Still I went home that night and shared the pictures on social media because pics or it didn’t happen and I’m owning my own process and all that. I went to sleep and woke up the next morning to several nice comments and hearts and likes and I thought awww my friends are so sweet. Then I looked back up at the painting and did a super humble double take because somehow overnight my mistakes had turned into happy accidents… you know, like they always do, and I realized I actually like my painting!
And the moral of my story is, own your progress. Keep trying the things. And remember, as the great Bob Ross would tell us over and over and over, we don’t make mistakes. We make happy accidents.