World Watercolor Month is officially my favorite month

July is World Watercolor Month! BRILLIANT! It also happens to by my birthday month – and notably, this is the first month I thought of my upcoming birthday and cringed. Normally I love my birthday. This year I’m turning 42, and I’m grumpy at recent weight gain, and still being a couple years away from my degree. I want to extend 41 a little longer to get my crap together. Don’t we all.

Instead, I’m painting! Watercolor is sort of like ukulele – no matter what you do with it, it’s kinda pretty. I’m past comparing my work to others. One gift of the 40’s is that I’ve discharged most of that. Not all of it, but most, and it’s a beautiful thing. I look at other artwork online now and I think, “How beautiful! That’s lovely!”, and then I look at my little chicken scratch paintings and I think, “How beautiful! That’s lovely!” It isn’t that I can’t see the difference, I do see it. I definitely do.

But I finally see the point of painting: it’s to make me happy. It isn’t to compare myself to anyone else, and it isn’t to be an art major or to hang anything in a gallery. It’s just to make me happy. And even my little scratchy bits make me very happy. I suggest everyone go get a little painting set, and a couple of brushes, and lay down some color and see how it feels. Do you feel free, and kind of giddy, and like life just got loads better? Me too. Keep going.

Color is fascinating – I’m continually amazed at how much I see everyday, without actually seeing it. I can walk down a street and report what colors are around me, but when I try to actually color in a doodle, I often get it wrong.

wc-painting-facesWe went to the Ballard Market today, and I ran into my friend and her wife. We hugged and talked and laughed, it was great, I missed her so much. I love running into people! Seattle can be a surprisingly small town that way. When I got home, I went out to the hammock and whipped out my new-for-July watercolor notebook, where I’m making a visual journal. First I painted JULY THIRD all fancy, and then I tried to paint my friend and her wife.

Both women are caucasian. In my paint set there aren’t pans helpfully marked “Caucasian skin tones” (neither are there any marked “Brindle Corgi” or “Hollie’s Husband”, for that matter), so I was stuck trying to figure this out on my own (should have checked the internet). My friend came out kind of a freaky dark pink, and her wife looks sunburned.

This is why I keep practicing.

On the boat, it seems like it would be easier. What’s around? Treelines! Water! That’s green and blue. How hard can that be? But no, it isn’t just green and blue. You start to greys and blacks and yellows and even dots of red, and as for blues – I counted seven blues in one small wave. Don’t even get me started on the sky.


I was sitting on the bow of Elska, trying to paint her bowsprit. It wasn’t my finest hour. In my defense, I was moving.


Those spikes at the top are the masts sticking up inside Shilshole Bay Marina. Oh and this one isn’t done, I didn’t finish painting. I had a lot of trouble with the paper, the paint wasn’t soaking into it. I’m using good paints (Sennelier), so I know that isn’t the problem. Maybe this paper isn’t great? It’s a Travelogue from Global Art Materials Inc. Anyway, despite being under sail and sucking at drawing, I’m impressed that you can actually sort of tell what it is. Well, most sailors could tell you. Non-sailors might be really confused. But then, non-sailors are probably confused most of the time. Some deep, subconscious restlessness must pervade their every moment. A thread of dissatisfaction, feeling unsettled, that hints they should really be doing something other than what they’re doing. IT’S SAILING. You should be sailing. You’re welcome.


That’s me! When I’m not painting. Greg and his brother Eric are at Elska’s helm, a rare moment where I give up control of the boat. Usually I tell everyone what to do and then stay at the helm. I waited so long to give up that damn wheel, I like to sit with my tiller.


I’m much better at photography.



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