As a freshman in high school, I took an art class that involved painting and drawing with different types of media, such as charcoal, graphite, acrylic paint, and watercolor paint. At the time, art wasn’t my passion yet, but I enjoyed doing it for fun. One of the assignments in class required us to create a picture by painting with watercolors. The only watercolors I had ever used were the ones from dollar stores with small plastic bristled paint brushes. My mother would purchase those for me when I was five years old. Although watercolor paint was introduced to me early in my childhood, I was still inexperienced when it came to using it. The watercolor assignment for my art class gave me the chance to learn how to use watercolors.
The paint and brushes provided by my high school were a little more advanced than dollar store paint. The paints at school were contained in large bottles, like shampoo, rather than little circles on a plastic pallet. In the classroom, there were more colors to choose from that were vibrant and had more pigment. Most of the colors I wanted to include in my painting were already made and ready for me to use. The large selection of colors saved me time so I didn’t have to mix the paint to get certain colors. My high school also provided the students new paint brushes with a variety of shapes and sizes to choose from. The paint brushes were softer with pointed ends. In the classroom, there were sinks big enough to allow room for multiple people to wash their supplies and tools simultaneously.
There was a student in the art class who was ahead with his assignments. He started working on the watercolor assignment before most of the students and me. He sat across from me at our table as he set up for the assignment . He asked the teacher for advice before he got started on his picture. As she advised him, she also mentioned, “controlling watercolors is one of the hardest tasks to attempt in art.” He began painting and he effortlessly created a beautiful Asian themed image with cherry blossoms and other foreign plants surrounding a lake. His talent inspired me to get started. After eavesdropping on their conversation, I thought her advice was to try to control the watercolors on the paper and I was determined to master that skill.
Following the brainstorming ideas for my watercolor picture, I began drawing the picture first, before I started painting. My picture was a landscape above and under ocean water. At the top of the paper, was a sun between mountains and clouds. Sitting beneath the ocean was an old, sunken ship. The water level went across the paper horizontally. I had an idea of bubbles coming out from the holes of the broken ship. I used scratch paper as I experimented with different techniques to help me decide how I would like to create the bubbles on my final paper. When I attempted to color the bubbles with paint, I began by dipping a small, fine point brush in dark blue paint. I made an outline of a circle for my first bubble. I filled in the outline with light blue paint but the bubble just looked like a two dimensional shape. On the same circle, I painted a thin white line just below the upper outline, but the circle still didn’t resemble a bubble.
I tried the same technique with different colors but they still just looked like circles and they didn’t make sense in the picture. Every technique I tried, included outlining the circles and using less water but none of these techniques were giving me the preferred results. After many attempts, I got frustrated and asked my teacher for advice.
She told me to embrace the watercolors and just let the paint spread and mix in the circles by itself. I took her advice by adding more water to my paint and allowing the watery, aqua paint to drop on my practice paper. While the drop of water was still wet on my paper, I added a light blue tint to the mixture and Voila! She was right! After the paint circles dried, they looked just like bubbles. When I was satisfied with the results on my practice paper, I used the same techniques on my final painting. I was so happy to finally be satisfied with my bubbles!
Throughout the assignment, I was attempting to control the watercolor paint but I should have let the water and paint run freely along my paper. This technique gave me the preferred results and made my simple drops of color look like bubbles. The assignment may have been completed with less effort if I had asked my teacher for advice sooner, but I wouldn’t have taken the chance to experiment with the paint on my own. This also proves that there is nothing wrong with asking for help because I may not have found a satisfying technique to create bubbles if I didn’t ask for help. With the memory of my experience, I can create more effortless bubbles with watercolor in the future.
In conclusion, my assignment wasn’t about accomplishing a difficult task. The purpose was to try different techniques and experiment to find my own style. After hearing her say that controlling the paint was difficult, I made it a challenge for myself to master that skill. I learned that it was more skillful to embrace the flow of the paint. With less control, I had better results in my painting. By attempting to complete the assignment on my own, I experienced frustration but with help from my teacher, I was able to observe how the paint and water work together. Overall, learning how to use watercolors through this assignment was a memorable experience.