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Starting out with Watercolours

What this site is NOT about.
Yes, let's get the negatives out of the way up front. I do not consider myself a competent enough artist to teach other people how to draw or paint. There are hundreds of great sites run by great artists that already do that. I am learning to paint and draw in my own way, by trial and error ... but mostly by error. One of the first things I noticed was how I was beginning to look differently at the world around me. Seeing detail where previously I had seen no detail ... appreciating things I had looked at very many times but was now only seeing for the very first time. I find this hobby to be most enjoyable, and I wish to share that enjoyment, and encourage others to have a go.

Who am I?
When I started painting I was just an ordinary working guy in his fifties who was bought a book and a basic watercolour set as a Christmas present, as a bit of fun. The book ? PaintBox by Frank Clarke. Frank claims "Anyone can Paint". Yeh, right!!!

Well, I had a go. I followed his pages as closely as I could and was amazed at the results. Once I had finished the book I tried a few things of my own, interested to see how I would get on without Franks instructions to guide me.

Why I've developed this web site.
One thing I soon realised was that I had no one to refer to ... no critic to tell me if I was doing good or not so good ... and no samples of work of my own standard with which I could draw comparisons. Students of any subject measure their own achievements by comparing them with those of their peers, not by comparing them with those of the tutor.

Looking on the 'web' tended to only show me the work of experts ... and that only showed me how poor my work really was. So, I made up a few rules of my own, and developed my own strategy. It works for me. That does not mean it will work for you, but if it does, then that makes me very happy.

My approach to learning to paint.
One of the things I decided on right at the very outset was NOT to discard my 'failures'. I have kept them all ... the good, the bad, and the positively atrocious. Why? Because I believe there is no such thing as mistakes in painting ... only lessons. I have learned much more from my disasters as I have from my best efforts. For this reason, I share with you some of my worst efforts together with a brief explanation as to what I was trying to achieve, and what I actually learnt.

You can paint also.
If you are thinking of having a go, then I urge you to do just that. Get yourself some basic (very basic) watercolours, a couple of cheap brushes and a medium size pad of watercolour paper. Ideally, also visit your nearest book shop and find yourself a "Teach yourself Watercolours" book of some description. Frank Clarke's Paint Box worked for me, but I didn't try any others so I can't say if it's the best. But whichever book you get, follow it from page one as best you can.

Then comes the hard part. When you have finished a painting DO NOT throw it away. Put it away for a few days, and then return to it and look at all the things you did right. Take note of the things you think are wrong, and understand what you could have done to have made your picture better. Do not discard your attempt in disgust even before the paint has dried. No matter how poor it is, it will have some merit.

My first efforts
I have set up a web page showing how I got on with the first 20 lessons, together with my thoughts and observations. None of the pictures are great .... none of them are as good as the sample in the book .... yet they ALL have merit. If I can achieve these results then I believe anyone can.

Don't do it alone
Finally, regardless of how bad YOU might think your painting is, come back here and share it with us. Join my Art Forum, which is a very small group of likeminded artists, many of whom have been through this same process. Let's look at your work together. Let us understand, in our own amateurish way, what you did wrong and what you did right, and let us find in each painting the encouragement you need to do another. The forum is a safe, none-intimidating environment where you will be warmly welcomed by a friendly and understanding group of non-experts.

Whether you are a beginner thinking about having a go, someone who has already tried painting, or an accomplished artist with comments to make about my work or this web site, I am really looking forward to receiving your email, and your comments.