I found a new hobby recently and started to pick up after more than 20 years of not picking up my art brushes. I used to paint seriously in my school and college years but the passion somehow got buried after I started working, among many other things.
Many times, I tried to resurrect the passion to no avail. However, a recent AHA moment somehow hit me and here I am, painting (again) with a completely new medium, the medium that I was very scared to try previously – watercolor.
What really unblocked this resistance are a series of moments and decisions but I recognized there were 3 key lessons in this journey.
1. Understand the resistance and explore the motivation
I recognized that the main reason why I hesitated to re-start painting is the lack of time. Time is of the essence and clearly, with a lot of juggling these days, it is a precious commodity. After much exploration, I realized that the reason why I didn’t want to start my painting is because in the past, most of my paintings were oil or acrylic on big canvases. That simply took days and months to finish them – and right now, the massive oil painting that I am used to do sounds like a lot of commitment for me.
Instead, I understand the driver is creating something beautiful and quick. With that understanding, I explored if watercolor is something that can fit both. An A5 or A4 size is good enough for a spur of the moment painting – also, having a designated painting station works wonders and I am free to reach out to my painting set anytime I want.
Think about the times when we really want to do something but lack the drive to start it – it can be writing a book, doing morning exercise, doing some chores or managing our finances. The same technique can be applied and I am sure, just like the painting, we will find pleasant surprise after understanding what’s holding us up and addressing them.
2. If it’s challenging and scary, start with the easiest and find models / mentors
Watercolor has been scary for me, given the technique is less forgiving and very fluid. Perhaps the technical understanding of watercolor painting scared me off – or maybe just not knowing how to control the strokes and values seems daunting. Fortunately, the internet has so many free (and paid) classes for beginner’s watercolor and much to my surprise, it is very easy to pick up.
So, lesson #2 is to start small and keep going. Find one thing that will make us start and go from there.
3. Foundation and practice matter a lot for further improvements
This is a given but still amazed me with its power. After 2 months of free-flow painting, I started learning the techniques more seriously. Since I have done painting before, the foundations are not much different from other medium – composition, strokes, values. Additionally, I find that my painting significantly improved once I established certain cadence in my practice.
In short, to be better, there is no way I can take a shortcut – this principle remains true in life as well.