Another activity that has helped me through these past months is trying watercolour painting. I had a small palette of watercolour paints that I occasionally dug out to play with. But when Christmas 2021 rolled around and I received gift money, I bought a complete Winsor and Newton watercolour set.
October to February were especially difficult months for me in our daughter’s post-accident and brain injury journey, so playing with paint was one welcome distraction. I found a few Youtube videos about painting flowers using different types of brushstrokes. I left paint, jars of water, brushes, and paper out on my table so I could sit down at any time and have a go at practicing brushstrokes. There is just something meditative and calming about doing things by hand, which is really helpful in times of grief and distress. The photo below shows a painting in which I tried creating a circular wreath that I had seen so often online – fancy ones with flowers and leaves. I only did leaves, for simplicity while I practiced. Placing the colours just so and focusing on strokes absorbed my mind.
The next photo shows a watercolour painting I did awhile ago. I tried my hand at drawing flowers in pencil by copying from a colouring book. Then I coloured everything in with watercolour paints, created the mottled red background, and outlined shapes with a fine black marker. I’m pretty pleased with it.
The next photo shows this wonderful paint that I discovered through an artist’s Instagram account. It’s called Gansai Tambi, which is traditional Japanese watercolour. These paints are different from watercolours in North America; they have different binders and more vivid colours, and they are opaque. What caught my eye were the pearlescent and metallic colours. I had seen touches of gold on other artists’ paintings, and thought it looked fun to use. So I scouted around until I found this set.
Out of eighteen large pans, you get sixteen colours because there are two golds and two white golds. I love the larger pans, too, because it’s easier to get the brush in them. With these paints, you add a drop or two of water and then swirl it around in the paint for a minute or so. The water sort of “absorbs” into the paint and liquifies it; then you can pick up a large load of paint on the brush. Brushing the paint onto paper feels smooth with these paints. And then of course I had to locate some black mixed media paper because the metallics are gorgeous on black. I made up two swatch cards, as you can see below. Quite the differences between the same colour paints on two different colour papers!
After playing with these colours and brushstrokes, I created this painting one day. I started off with just doodling roses onto black paper, but then added leaves and highlights. Then I started splooshing blue pearly paint between the shapes, but leaving thin outlines of black paper showing through. I was pretty pleased when I finished this, too!
Do you practice watercolour painting? Do you practice any other types of handwork in order to keep your mind grounded in times of trouble? I’d love to read your stories in the comments below!