Painting with watercolours is my superpower

Have you ever thought of the things in your life that re-energise you?

In recent years I have discovered that painting with watercolours is my superpower!

Sometimes life invariably gets busy, stuff happens and sometimes we need to sit back and take a moment to reconnect and re-energise ourselves.  For me, it’s about taking the time to breathe and chill!

Sadly, I haven’t always painted and have only recently reconnected with my love for art.

Growing up I wanted to be a commercial artist however, attending university I studied business!  Yes, I know – not quite the same genre!  Go figure!

1My reconnection came with some challenges

Swamped with the pressures of work and everyday challenges I was feeling quite overwhelmed and looking for a way to reconnect my energy.

I saw an advertisement in the local paper which piqued my interest.  Patricia Weeks advertised a ‘learn to paint’ workshop for ‘botanical style’ watercolours.  Patricia is a talented Alice Springs artist whose work I have admired for a long time.

Without hesitation, I signed up and couldn’t wait for the first class!

On a brisk winter’s morning in June, ten of us gathered at the Olive Pink Botanical Gardens in Alice Springs.  A beautiful place to be inspired and feel at one with nature, we were all excited about our new adventure.

2Workshop Day 1

Patricia welcomed us warmly and set about propping a broom upside down with a sheet draped over it and instructed us to paint what we could see.  “Paint the shadows,” she told us.

Puzzled about the connection to botanical art, we started to paint the task with each of us trying to replicate the folds in the sheet as accurately as we could.  We all struggled with the task and at the lesson’s end, felt our paintings were quite amateurish and child like.

By the end of the lesson, I had reached the decision that painting watercolours was clearly beyond my capacity.  I decided I would not return, as clearly I had demonstrated I had NO clue!

Pat walked me to the door and persuasively convinced me to to give it one more attempt next week.

3Workshop Day 2

Full of hope, but with little confidence I arrived at my second lesson.

Aubergines and Oranges!  Our mission was to reproduce this beautiful black/purple aubergine with a glossy smooth skin positioned alongside an orange with coarse skin.

Today we were to learn about shape, contour, texture and depth of colour.  Apparently!

My aubergine was the most stunning beautiful purple ever, however nothing like the colour of the real aubergine and I had perched it above a rather flat looking orange that did not look at all circular and certainly had no spherical perspective to it – nothing like the ‘still life’ example we were set!

Another fail!  I was shattered.  I had always thought I had reasonable vision and a great eye for colour.  Apparently, not so!

Pat walked with me to the door again, encouraging me to return for just one more lesson.

4Workshop Day 3

Under no illusions of my competency, I decided a nice hot chocolate and a chat with my new art friends was a good way to while away a few hours on a Saturday morning.  I arrived with a smile and my art supplies in tow, and took up a nice sunny position in the outdoor studio to match my cheery attitude.

Patricia started the class by dropping a few dead ‘gum leaves’ on the table and asked us to gather around.  Today Pat was painting!  Roughly she sketched the shape of three damaged gum leaves on her paper and then set about wetting the paper in preparation to add colour.

She added an ochre yellow to the outlined edge and I watched it swirl gently and dilute intensity towards the centre of the leaf.  When the paint was almost dry she added a light sap green to her drawing and I watched the colours merge and blend together.  Lightly she floated a thin line of dark brown along the edges of the leaf.  Instantly the leaf was defined and took on a life of it’s own.

I was hooked!

That week I proudly brought home my first masterpiece!

5My new inspiration quickly turned into an obsession!

My style is elusive and I feel that I’m yet to discover it, but the journey to discovery is becoming more interesting every day.

I have become a ‘bower bird’.  I collect gum nuts, broken twigs, seed pods, native flowers, rocks and anything that I think might be interesting to paint which provides another dimension to my art.   If I can’t lug it home, I take a photograph!

Bright colours are my passion, I love vivid colours in a painting and particularly love pen and wash techniques where the colours are inter-mixed with ink.

I get a buzz out of painting characters like camels, emus and other creatures and I love to paint the rustic seedpods that fall off our beautiful trees.   I have become obsessed with painting trees; not just your average green leafy trees but I particularly love the gnarly old weathered gum trees that had distorted branches and deformities.

My passion for art, colour and watercolours has always been strong so when times get tough, it’s time to paint!

Painting is a great leveler.  I think of nothing else when I’m painting allowing the tensions and stresses disappear and I relax – totally!

Have you discovered something about yourself?  What’s your superpower?