I have been thinking a lot about what makes this medium so special as I prepare to teach Watercolor on Sept 24 here at Casa Joshua Tree. I was talking with a friend about the event, and she asked "Why watercolor?" Good question. I wanted the first workshop to be something near and dear to my heart, but besides that, why is learning watercolor painting worth your time? Here are my reasons.
1. Painting is the ultimate self-care.
And we NEED self-care. Taking time to do something for yourself is 100% necessary for your mental health. There are a gazillion books about this (my favorites are The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp, The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, and Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland). Sitting down and making marks with color on paper, with no agenda other than to play, can change your life.
2. Unleash your creativity (you'll be surprised what is hiding in there!)
You have no idea what you're capable of. Painting uses a part of your mind you probably don't engage daily. You will be pleasantly surprised when ideas come to you while painting (often they have absolutely nothing to do with painting!) All kinds of stuff can flow from your mind once you start firing those creative neurons. Let it flow.
3. It's low maintenance, low cost, and portable.
Watercolors are lightweight, and easy to take anywhere. I have taken my watercolors to Europe and on countless trips across the US. I have even taken them backpacking, where every ounce of weight counts. There are paint sets and papers for every budget, and you can get a student set of paints, brushes, and a pad for less than $30 at a craft store (Michaels and Joann's offer great beginner sets). Set up a little corner of your desk with a pad, paint set, your brush and a cup for water--it's ready to go any time you have a moment to zen out or pack them in your bag next time you go to the park.
4. Anyone can do it!
You don't need any special skills to do watercolor. You don't have to be athletic, artistic, young, or old. You only have to set aside time to sit down and do it. I know, you are thinking, "but I'm not an artist, I'm not creative, I don't have talent"-- in short, yes you do/yes you are. (a much longer discussion but I believe EVERYONE has creative tendencies--But that doesn't matter right now anyways.) There are many kinds of painting-- if you are worried about your representational skills, make abstract paintings instead. Kids can do it. Adults can do it. Families can paint together!
5. It's safe
Watercolor is probably the safest paint on the market. And, unlike most active hobbies, you won't throw out your back while you paint. Depending on the kinds of paints you chose to buy, some can be toxic (usually the fancy and expensive ones like cadmiums) but generally they are pretty safe and the exposure to your skin is minimal (if at all) unlike messier painting mediums like oils and acrylics. Children's paint sets like Crayola are the safest (they have to pass rigorous testing). You probably used them in art class as a kid!
6. It's worth a thousand words (or maybe a million).
Documenting a time or place with a painting is really special. Sitting in a place and observing it on a deep level and recording that on paper leaves a deep mark on your memory. I can look at paintings I did 5 years ago and remember the breeze on my face or the quality of the light while I painted it. You can do abstract or landscapes--either works because you are trying to document your feelings in color (not just the way a place looks). How you felt and saw a place belongs only to you.
Sign up for Watercolor at Casa Joshua Tree on Sept 24, 2016