Friday, September 4, 2020

Learning to Paint

 One of the things I’m doing during COVID/heat waves/wildfire-smoky days is learning how to paint.  And, of course, I fell in love with watercolor which is one of the most difficult mediums.  Figures.  Fortunately, there are a ton of great tutorials on YouTube and that is how I got started.  I discovered that within watercolor, there sub-categories of painting: loose or realistic, landscapes or botanicals or animals.  I want to learn them all.  I seem to do best at botanicals and my landscapes look like kindergarten.  

I enrolled in a couple online schools about a month ago.  One of them is focused on botanicals and the other on realistic animals.  When my dad was visiting last month, he made the observation that I paint from photographs and not from real life.  That got me to thinking.  I’m painting from photos along with tutorials helping me “see” the important shapes and shadows.  So, is that really painting?  I think so.

Remember when you were learning to write the letters of the alphabet?  First, the teacher showed you how to hold the pencil which felt super awkward.  Then she wrote letters on the board and you copied them onto your paper — that had lines for capitals and lower case.  But it was still hard at first.  How far down do you go for the tail on a “g” —and a capital “S” — man that was hard.  I thought a capital “W” was hard, too, which was a problem because my last name started with that letter.  

Gradually, we learned to print our letters and then to write in cursive.  We copied our teachers until we could do it solo.  Painting is the same.  I’m tracing the outline of a picture and then watching a video of the instructor as she explains what she is seeing, the appropriate brush strokes, and how to mix colors.  

I’m getting better — I fast-forward through about half of the video now.  I’m learning to trust my eye.  I’m getting some muscle memory around how to hold a brush and how much paint to load and how to blend one color into another without hard lines.  

Maybe I’m delusional, but I consider what I’m doing “real” painting.  Not great painting, and not original painting, but real just the same.  



  1. It is real painting! You are such a creative person. Even though I started reading for the horse content I like all of your posts, whether it’s about art, gardening or food.

  2. I'm also learning to paint as well, just botanical watercolors. It's a great way to add some variety to each day and fun to learn new techniques! Happy to know others are doing newbie pandemic painting as well.

  3. You have a very good eye and are such a quick study! I love how you have high enough expectations of your abilities that you tackle the things you do. I also love how you don’t take your dad’s words to heart, but can see your work and progress for what it is. You really do have a talent for this Annette.

  4. Of course it’s real. Artists use photos all the time! I love your work.

  5. Wow, these all look great! And you created them with paint and a brush, so they are definitely REAL paintings. Looking forward to more painting posts mixed in with the garden and horses.

  6. Wow I can't believe you just started painting. This looks so good. Even my paint by numbers didn't even turn out good!


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