I am here to tell you that you will be terrible, but you should just start anyway. This is true of many things in life. People hold back from doing something they truly want to do because they can’t start off as an expert and worry about being embarrassed, or even worse, failing. Unfortunately, failure is the pathway to success. Failure means you are actually doing something and not just day dreaming about it. Failure is a good thing even though it doesn’t sound like it is. Trust me, I forget that too sometimes.
I have had a few people tell me that they have always wanted to learn how to paint with watercolors. People are often afraid to start because the medium is not an easy one. Once the paint hits the paper it’s on. There is no painting over it, blending it in, or scraping it off (well, there is, but only in small doses and you have to be more skilled than I am). It’s intimidating. They also tell me they can’t even draw a stick figure (I really can’t either: Stickman Drawings). To that I ask, “WHO CARES?!” Do it anyway. Start anyway. It’s the only way you are going to get better.
We all start at the same place: the bottom. It’s true. When I started this blog I only had three readers. My Facebook Fan page had three likes. It was embarrassing and yes I thought I probably looked a little foolish, but I lived through the awkwardness and look at me now. I have more readers, my Facebook page has more likes and I have also become a much better painter. I have been practicing. Everyday I am faced with something new to learn and I love it. A new painting technique, a new social media platform, a new technical challenge…html (Gah!). I’ve learned that putting things off only means it will take me longer to become an expert. So, I try to dive right in and I expect to be terrible in the beginning. I have learned to laugh at myself and my failures. Sometimes it takes me a week or two of grumbling and swearing under my breath to get there, but I usually do.
When I first took that free class on watercolor painting at the local library just about two years ago, my paintings were pretty goofy. At the time I was a little embarrassed by them, but also kind of proud too because they were better than I expected them to turn out. I had very low expectations. When I compare them to the paintings I am making now I can see the improvement. It’s taken me over two years, but I am getting better. I still have a long way to go before I can call myself an expert, but I am so glad I started when I did. I am two years further along than I would be if I waited until now to get started, right?
You will look foolish many times: Start anyway. There will be epic failures and small failures. You will ruin paper and brushes. You will write something on your blog that offends people, you will post too often or too little on Facebook. You might fry your computer or get a crazy bill from your Internet company because you accidentally uploaded all of your pictures into “the cloud” and went over your internet usage by 20 gigabytes (true story). You might cry or stomp your feet or decide to quit. You might decide to keep going in despite of the setbacks and failures and small humiliations. Either way, at least you started. At least you know you tried.
You will be terrible, but start anyway. Start today. Live without regrets.
* Want to teach yourself how to paint? If you can only afford one watercolor book get this one! It’s only $1.39 on Amazon. Joye Moon explains every watercolor technique I can think of in this one book. Including how to use tracing papers for people who can’t draw well, but want to paint. She has projects that are very free-form and don’t even require drawing. She also explains different materials to paint on, brushes, and using watercolor in collage. It’s one of the best books I have gotten on the subject and I still refer to it two years later.