More Watercolors

I’ve mentioned a few times here that I’ve been attempting to learn more about watercolors (and also illustration in general). It’s been slow. I picked up a kit, which features watercolors of Japanese foods and snacks, from a website called Mossery. It’s been lovely and relaxing. I think I’ve learned a bit and have been improving.

As per usual, I have a lot of doubts that what I am doing is worth my time (and money). When I look at it from a certain perspective, it looks so pointless: sitting there with a brush and colors, mixing them and filling in the predawn lines, attempting to match the example given in the little booklet. Why am I doing this? This isn’t real art, the naysaying voices state. I’m not nor will I make any money off of this. It’s not helping or feeding anyone (other than perhaps the people who work for the company that produces these kits).

It’s hard, at times, to silence those voices that have, for so long, been telling me that the only valid use of time is using it to make money or to produce something, anything as long as it can either be paid for and consumed or perhaps something wholly original (never mind the question of whether any art or human creation has ever been wholly original or even can be).

But, still, there’s a part of my mind that tugs at me each time I think about my little paint set. There’s a certain eagerness there to sit back down and do this little thing, this little ritual. And it comes from a certain familiarity for how the process is going to go and how it is going to make me feel. I know that, for the most part, I’m going to have at least a few moments of, “wow, this is so cool that my hand is recreating what my eye sees.” Or just little moments of surprise: “Oh! I didn’t know that this would come out like this!” Or even just the satisfying moments of, “well, now I know how to do this and how I can improve upon it next time.”

And of course, there are the lovely little instances where I can be so completely focused on what I am doing that there is no room for those pesky voices throwing doubt in my direction.

And my kids will check in on my progress every so often. By and large, their responses are surprised, “that looks AMAZING.” But one of them will thrown in the occasional suggestion, “You should have made that part lighter like they did in the model.” Or “That doesn’t really look like the example.” But at least then I know that their positivity is genuine, they clearly aren’t mincing their words.

We’ve thought about trying to make some of the foods that we see. We are hoping for a trip to Japan before too long here and my husband suggested we try to eat all the foods in this workbook whilst there. My dad went to medical school in Japan, so I’ve visited a few times and it remains a culture that I feel a certain kinship to because of my dad’s connection to the country. Our last trip there, my 8 year old daughter was too young too remember much other than the middle of the night trips out that she and I took together to 7-11 to pick up snack foods. Some of those are in this book, which I doubt I would have thought to re-create had they not all been already compiled.

The kit came with a blank watercolor notebook as well. I think of it as a sort of little nudge towards creating some of my own projects. There’s even a pencil that can be used to lightly draw guidelines (which will later be covered up with the paints). I’m a bit intimidated by that whole idea of creating my own. I’ve tried one small landscape (inspired by our trip to the beach) on one page. Results were mixed. But the learning was great. So I’ll keep going.

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