Hi Gabby! Your work is absolutely stunning. I'm majorly in love with watercolours! Am I correct in saying you're self taught? That's really cool. I'm just starting out on my own self taught journey and I am a little lost. I draw a lot, but I lack the structure an education would give me. I was wondering if you had any tips on the best way to go about it?
Hello! Thank you! I am self-taught. Here are my tips (that I don’t even always follow but you know):
Without the structure of a formal education you have to create your own structure in a few ways. The first is making time to practice. When I was a teacher, I would make time in the evenings after grading papers and planning to draw, or on Friday, my day off, I would spend a lot of time drawing. Turn down social invitations sometimes to practice. I did!
By practice I mean make mistakes, drop paint onto wet paper just to see what happens, make something out of it… Do whatever you can think of that will help you understand how watercolor behaves under different circumstances. Practicing could also mean giving yourself “assignments”, like, I don’t know, draw five trees and paint them, or make three watercolor blobs and then draw something on top of them, or make something using only two colors. Setting boundaries helps creativity to flourish.
You also have to do your own research for tips on technique and such. There are tons of watercolor tutorials on the internet, for example. And books in your local library. (I am such a dork and definitely checked out books about drawing and watercoloring from the public library when I was younger.)
Copy other artists. I know this sounds crazy, but what I mean is copy artwork that you love (my favorite artist to copy was Kay Nielsen) and then KEEP IT TO YOURSELF. That stuff isn’t really meant to be shared. What happens is that you end up absorbing certain elements and then over time they transform into something that’s yours. You also figure out new techniques that might not be what the original artist did but are still cool so it doesn’t matter.
That’s really it. It’s up to you to fill in the blanks. Also you should know I am kind of old and have been “teaching myself” for what suddenly has become several years. Going to art school probably would’ve sped up the process a lot, but that’s not the path my life took, and that’s ok. What I’m saying is if you really love art and drawing and all that, keep at it. Nothing happens overnight.