breakthrough practice makes perfect water to pigment ratio watercolor experiments Sep 25, 2022

I could hear the pleasure in her voice, “I’ve had a breakthrough, Ruth!” My friend Janice is an accomplished artist having mainly worked with acrylics and papiermache. But she had decided she wanted to learn to use watercolor. Now, watercolor is a wonderful medium and if someone wants to “dabble” in watercolor, it is totally “dabb-able.” That’s one of the things I like about it. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a “dabbler.” On the other hand, if one wants to really learn the ins-n-outs of this wonderful medium, it takes a little more than “somewhat” of a commitment. And that too, is one of the things I love about watercolor. It has wonderful possibilities and potential for expression if one wants to take it further down the road. 

Janice was aiming for the latter. She had taken my online watercolor course, but as she moved on, she found she was stuck with the whole water to paint ratio – and how much to get on her brush. Can you identify? It’s one of those things you have to kind of figure out yourself. Even hearing or seeing it done in front of you doesn’t quite pull it off. You need to hold the brush in your own hand and try it.

So, at that point Janice could have just settled for her own version of dabbling, or given up altogether. Instead, she purchased a pack of watercolor cards and rather ingeniously used a flower stamp so that she would have something lovely to paint that was already drawn (great idea, n’est-ce pas?). Over and over again she tried, experimenting with the different paint and water ratios. And then it happened. She figured it out (as much as anyone CAN with watercolor). And that’s when I heard from her. 

Later at her home, standing at her kitchen counter, she showed me her cards and the “one” with the lovely, soft wash of beautifully blended colors. It wasn’t overworked. It was just Janice’s expression of the colors, straight from her heart, to her brush, to the paper. Ahhhhh! It’s so, so satisfying when that happens.

My encouragement to us all, is to hang in there (especially if we’re pursuing something we really want). Let’s not fall prey to the lie that whispers if we can’t pull something off to our liking (when we first try it), we CAN'T do it!! There’s a reason the proverb Practice Makes Perfect has hung around for centuries. Or, if we really want to end on a distinguished note, the latin reads, Uses Promptos Facit (Use Makes Perfect). So, here’s to stacks of watercolor experiments, or better yet - here's to breakthroughs in whatever form you find them!!!  “USES PROMPTOS FACIT!!!”