I’m Not Getting Better! Tips to help you keep going and improving.
I’m not getting better. Do you feel like you’re not progressing in your watercolours? Sometimes no matter how hard you try, something unexpected always comes up. Maybe it’s a stray brush stroke. Or perhaps a bloom. Or how about that time you added too much paint on your brush and turned day into night!
Making mistakes is a normal part of learning anything. That includes learning watercolours.
Here are six tips to help you keep going and to see the light at the end of the tunnel:
- You learn more from making mistakes. Push your boundaries. Each time you experiment or practice something new, you learn how the paper and paint react in a particular context. Through repeated attempts, you’ll pick up that brush one day and realise you know just the right time and way to proceed.
- Mistakes can often look good in watercolour painting. Now I’m not talking about major mistakes like colouring the sky a different colour. I mean small incidental mistakes like splatters, unintended marks, scratches. Watercolour is suited to well thought out, yet free-formed brush strokes. I often try to create random textures and small blooms in my landscapes to add more variation to a wash. Often, accepting a mistake and moving on, working with it is the best thing to do if you’re worried about trying to correct it.
- Try to view mistakes as opportunities to learn. A sign that you’re on the right track. Remember, it’s just paint and paper! If you’re making mistakes, it probably means you’re painting more consistently and trying new things. Having an open mind and not being hard on yourself is key. Consistency is what leads to improvement.
- Don’t compare yourself to other artists. If you’re going to compare yourself to anyone, why not let that someone be yourself? Sitting down after you complete a painting and taking mental notes of what you did well, what you would like to work on are active ways to speed up your progress. When viewing other artists’ work – try to find inspiration and ways to learn from them.
- Acknowledge and find positive improvements in your work. Even it is just a minute improvement here or there, give yourself a pat on the back. Just take a look at my two paintings above. It’s difficult to see how far you’ve come until you take a step back. Remember that even attempting to paint a subject, let alone finish painting is an achievement on its own. Think of all the people who gave up before they even tried!
- Learning watercolour painting is hard. Not to state the obvious! As a beginner, you are also learning how to draw and pick up concepts such as composition, layering, depth, perspective. Also, you need to consider more variables in watercolour. The wetness of the paper and brush. The angle or tilt of your paper. The temperature of the room. Due to the transparent nature of watercolour, you can’t layer lighter colours over darker colours. All of these factors are more or less absent in painting mediums such as oils or acrylics… but they don’t have that magical glow and convenience!
Imagine if you felt capable enough to paint any landscape subject.
I have a range of free watercolour workshops available by clicking here or below in the playlist. These will guide you through my entire process and help you to progress faster.