Tips for Finding Your Creative Voice!


If your voice is locked up deep inside, it can be hard to know where to start to let that voice come through.  There was a time when my voice was shut down and I felt like I was imploding inside.  I was scared to journal because it felt unsafe, I didn't want to write my emotions on the page.  So watercolor was the beginning for me, it started me on the path of self-expression in a way that felt nurturing.

Here are a few tips to getting started with watercolor.  You don't have to be a Picasso to enjoy the benefits of this timeless art medium.

1.  To begin, you will want to gather a few materials.  Some basic watercolor paper or mixed media paper is essential to hold up to the fluid color.  I also highly recommend a set of pan paints, which I prefer over tube watercolor.  Pan paints have an immediacy to them, you just have to add a little water to the cakes of color and the paint is ready to go.  Lastly a few paintbrushes in different sizes is essential.  I prefer a water brush these days, they are little plastic brushes with a water reservoir that makes watercolor so fun.  But regular brushes are what I started with, just get a basic set of brushes, maybe go a few dollars up from the cheapest ones because sometimes the most inexpensive brushes lose bristles when you paint.  Lastly you will want a cup of water...I tend to use old jam jars.  Paper towels are also great for clean up and for adding some texture to your painting.

2.  For your first paintings, just splash some color onto the page.  Experiment with your brushes and see what kind of marks they can make.  Let your first paintings be very primitive and really just enjoy playing with color.  Honor the fact that you are a beginner.  The works I've created that have been the most freeing are often the ones that actually turn out quite ugly...they are more for self expression and less about creating beauty.  

3.  You could choose a topic to explore at first, just to get your feet wet.  I chose flowers however you can pick anything you really love.  This is one avenue to just beginning to work with watercolor in a way that is really nurturing.  Sometimes when you are first tapping into your emotional center it can be scary because you don't know what will come out.  It can feel strange to let it all out, because you might fear that your feelings will be too powerful for you to hold.  The paintbrush and paper can carry those feelings, and hold them like a safe container.

4.  Try some abstracts.  Abstracts are more about color, shapes and line work.  There is no right or wrong way to do an abstract painting.  Begin by painting a background, wet down a few watercolors and dab on the paints here and there.  Choose light colors so you can layer darker colors over the top.  Then begin adding shapes and line work, let one shape lead to the next.  Try layering colors over certain areas by making a really watered down mixture of paint and quickly brushing it over an area with a large brush.  

5.  Look for symbolism in your paintings.  Are there certain colors you like more than others?  What shapes and symbols keep appearing in your art?  Is there something you notice about your works that might represent how you feel within?  Originally I started with painting watercolors, and all of my paintings mostly depicted a couple of flowers in the middle of the page with blank vast space in the background.  I felt very alone at the time and the paintings captured that feeling very well.  What are your paintings telling you?

6.  Add collage elements to your paintings.  Using a glue stick and some old magazines, tear out imagery and cover up parts of your paintings that you don't like.  Or add in elements that transform your work into a vision of how you want life to change.  In this way each work can begin to hash out a vision for the kind of life you want to live.  

Have fun exploring watercolor painting!  Try out some of these ideas and begin to let your voice shine through.