Despite not painting on a regular basis, despite the fear I face when I start a new painting, despite not being able to remember what brand of burnt umber I really like, I am a watercolourist. That became evident to me in the last few weeks as I started teaching watercolour, forcing me to start painting again at home while preparing projects for my class.
I felt a little like a phony when I was approached about teaching watercolour. For the past few years I’ve averaged two paintings a year – not exactly professional artist output. When you paint that seldom, you do start feeling rusty. Creativity is self-feeding, meaning that the more you create the more inspired you become. The reverse is also true, and I felt in hibernation when it came to painting. The one thing that did console me was that I was still creating almost daily (papercraft projects) and that in scrapbooking there is a lot of attention to good design. I knew that strengthening my design skills would pay off when I did start painting again. And I was once told by another artist that she didn’t consider the years before she started painting wasted – that every experience in her life contributed to what she put into her painting.
But an artist creates art, and I have never felt more like an artist than in these past few weeks. My little sunflower study turned into inspiration for a larger sunflower painting, and several more ideas are jostling for their turn. I’m embracing the process of creation, and I’ve freed myself from the rigidity I used to feel – that sense of needing to create art other people would understand and/or buy. I know what I am making brings me joy, and I believe that it is visible in the completed painting. And there is nothing like watercolour to me for the beauty, flow and transparency that I love so much.