Snow is creeping down the mountains now. Yesterday, I felt the first chill of winter’s due. The leaves on the trees are turning yellow and landing on my green grass that will no longer grow with the dropping temperatures. So, you may be surprised to know that I have a vegetable garden that is just coming to life. I’m always seeking creative outlets. I’m good at almost anything I can do with my hands, and the pursuit of art has brought me much joy. My daughter, Abbey, has inherited my love for art. Her medium of choice is watercolor.
Watercolor painting is considered to be quite difficult. The paint is loose and moves in unpredictable ways making it difficult to control. What you see when the water brushes across the paper is not what appears in the dried result. However, there’s one thing that watercolor does produce consistently—that is frustration.
In spite of its known difficulties, I asked Abbey to teach me how to use watercolor. My daughter gave me some instruction, but her words that stood out were, “Mom, the most important thing to know about watercolor is that you just have to find a style that works for you.”
My plan was to copy some artwork that I know my mom loves to give her on her upcoming birthday. I thought she would be impressed if I could replicate the variety of watercolor vegetables onto note cards for her to write in. So, I set out on my birthday gift task. I ordered watercolor cards and envelopes, and some plastic sleeves to package them.
I had my photocopy of said artwork. I picked a card from the top of the bundle I’d purchased. I carefully brushed each color in a way that I thought the artist had done. That card did not look anything like the desired result. I tried another. I studied, measured, and analyzed the photocopy in front of me. But no matter where I put my colors, or how careful, I couldn’t work the watercolor to look like the artwork of another. After many failed attempts and ruined note cards, I was ready to give up my plan.
I lay in bed one night with images of watercolors swirling in my mind and making their way into my dreams. I began to formulate my own ideas. The next day, I pulled out a fresh note card and painted an eggplant. I layered each color: light purple, pink, dark-purple, and topped it off with a green stem. I showed Abbey and asked her if it was awesome, knowing she would say yes. I showed my husband and asked him if he was proud of me, knowing he would say yes. Next came a zucchini, a beet, a broccoli, and so on, in the same style and technique.
After I had a spread of vegetables that I was happy with, my daughter’s words came back to me, “Find a style that works for you Mom.” I hugged my daughter that night and told her thank you for not only teaching me how to paint with watercolor, but also for reminding me of a valuable life lesson—don’t get stuck trying to be someone else. Your own talents, gifts, and unique path is what makes you awesome and proud to be you.