3 Myths About Watercolors That Are Holding You Back

When I decided to start painting with watercolors, I had zero hesitations. I got out some decade-old supplies, bought a cheap pad of watercolor paper and proceeded to figure out what to paint.

It was actually figuring out WHAT to paint that made me pause, but the desire and excitement was still there.

I didn’t give a second thought to whether or not it would be hard or if I would be terrible at it. I’m not sure if all those years of art classes gave me the confidence or just the idea that I didn’t have to show my possible disaster to anyone else if I didn’t want to.

Since becoming immersed in watercolors through painting and teaching I’ve witnessed may hesitations that hold people back from getting started with watercolor painting. And all of them (that I’ve seen and heard) are myths. 

Here are 3 common myths about watercolors I observed that hold people back.

1. I am not creative
2. I need to be able to draw
3. I should start with student grade supplies - I’m not good enough to use artist grade

Sound familiar? I wouldn’t be surprised! I’m going to go into a each myth below and give my opinion on why I believe these are myths and hopefully if you’ve been telling yourself any of these 3 untrue stories, it will encourage you to move past them and just paint!

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Myth #1: “I am not creative”

So you don’t think you’re the creative, artsy-crafty-type? Guess what? You don’t need to be the type of person that throws Pinterest-worthy parties, knits homemade sweaters or frosts the perfect cupcake. Watercoloring is just you, some paint, brushes, and paper. No other artsy-crafty skills required.

If you think you’re not creative, I’d like to remind you that you were born creative. You made art when you were a child, imagined up fanciful worlds, sang, and danced without judging yourself.

Maybe you have never tried anything creative recently so you forgot that you have that creativity in you. Think about it like this - maybe watercolors is how you rediscover your creativity. Why not give it a chance?

In fact, maybe you can establish a creative process for yourself to get into the mindset. I shared mine here. It involves reading, journaling, and cleaning - doesn't sound so scary, right?


Myth #2: “I need to be able to draw”

I hear this one A LOT. Sure, being able to draw is helpful. But not for the reason you may think. Knowing how to draw is really combining two skills:

1. Control of the pen or pencil with your hand
2. How to see - or rather your power of observation

If you look at drawing this way, you don’t need to draw in order to watercolor. Watercoloring is the same thing as drawing but instead of using a pen or pencil, you’re using a brush.

I know how to draw but when I started watercolors I didn’t pick up a pencil. In fact, I am a fan of painting with watercolors this way. I think it allows the true beauty of watercolor to shine. The free-form nature of painting without sketching can result in some beautiful (and unexpected) surprises.

So I encourage you not to let this myth stop you from painting. Pick up your brush, learn how to control it and what it is capable of by practicing some brush exercises and keep painting. Paint from reference photos, or better yet from real life inspiration. The more you paint, the more you practice your observational skills and the more you’ll continue improving!

 

Myth #3: “I should start with student grade supplies - I’m not good enough to use artist grade”

Even if we don’t say this out loud, I think many of those just starting out allow this myth to guide their supply-purchasing decisions. I know I did. I told myself I should use my old no-name supplies from elementary school because I didn’t know what I was doing.

There is a major pitfall that this myth leads people into. Lets say someone starting with watercolors decides they aren’t good enough for good quality paper and opt for lightweight, low quality paper. The results simple will not be the same. If this person tries repeatedly to achieve results that their supplies will not allow them to, it’s possible he or she would give up. Worst-case scenario they tell themselves it was because they couldn’t watercolor - when in reality, the supplies were holding them back!

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on watercolors to start, but you DO need to start off with supplies that will support your creative adventures.

In fact, the bare essential supplies I recommend for starting with watercolors if you’re on a budget will only run about $20.

Here are some resources if you’re overwhelmed with supplies and are looking for some guidance:

If you have heard any of these myths and have allowed any of them to hold you back from painting, I hope that this post helped dispel them. The most important thing about learning watercolors is to be kind to yourself and remember to have fun with it. Know that if you continue to show up, you’ll make progress. Don’t let these myths hold you back!

Thanks for reading,
Susan