Monday, July 12, 2021

July is Watercolour Month

I hope you are all having a beautiful summer so far. I was blessed to have some roses bloom in my garden this year, but my parents' garden has been filled with blooms.

Whenever I stop by, my Dad rushes outside to cut me some roses to take home. The cut roses fade quickly but I cherish the blooms. Many of you know that I spent 18 years in the floral industry. I don't regard flowers as a luxury, or something to be saved for sacred occasions. I see them as a necessity. They accompany us for so many of our special moments but they also bring such joy and charm to your surroundings. They bloom for us and wait to be noticed. This morning as I posted a watercolour painting to Instagram, I saw that July is watercolour month. I had never heard of watercolour month but thought I would make a quick blog post about the wonders of watercolour. The world of watercolour is vast. They are so versatile but can be overwhelming to a newcomer. I have taken several botanical watercolour courses over the past few years to help me explore watercolour as well as my love of flowers. One of the best online courses I have found is Billy Showell's watercolour school. You can choose a membership either monthly, bi-annually or yearly and her tutorials are wonderful. I have learned so much from her techniques.She has several books but the most comprehensive book I have found is Botanical Painting for Watercolour. The basics of many techniques are explored with beautiful illustrations.
The American Society of Botanical Artists have also produced a beautiful guide. This book is wonderful. The tutorials can be explored as individual lessons or you can read the book cover to cover. You can start anywhere in this book. There is the potential to go through each chapter as a mini study and learn so many lessons. Beyond watercolour, this book gives advice about drawing, working on vellum, using egg tempera and even silverpoint. It is a beautiful book. 
My newest acquisition to my bookshelf is Colours of Nature by Sandrine Maugy. This is a beautiful book  explaining the properties of various pigments alongside explanations of her painting techniques and projects. I have been reading each page with  interest as the author really wants you to understand watercolour and how to get the best results from your paint box and avoid common pitfalls.
My own preference for studying watercolour came from the desire to add  florals to my calligraphic work. I wanted to combine image and text. But as I started to study botanical watercolour, I realized I was drawn to it for the same reasons I am drawn to calligraphy and flourishing. I want to get into a peaceful and mindful state while working. I want to feel fully engaged with the project I am working on. When Dad cut the blooms from his rose garden, I wanted to cherish the gorgeous pink blossoms are really appreciate their beauty no matter how busy my schedule had been. When you examine a flower to draw, you hold it you hand, experience the fragrance, view it from all angles, touch the petals and really understand the subject. As you put pencil and then paint to paper, even if you can't capture all of the beauty of the flower, you will truly appreciate its complexity and the magic it has. As a florist, I handled dozens of flowers every day and in some ways, took them for granted. Now that I have to go out of my way to grow them or purchase them, I love taking mindful moments to really appreciate them. If you are new to watercolour, I encourage you to give it a try with what you have on hand. Skills with a brush and taking time to observe a subject will enhance our calligraphy. The disciplines really do merge together well. I hope you find some time to play this July....after is watercolour month!!!

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