You see, what I found was that most people couldn't draw to start with. Some people said that they don't want to learn how to draw but want to learn how to paint. Unfortunately, you can't do one without the other. Even if you don't use a pencil, you are still 'drawing' with a paintbrush. The trouble is that people pick up really bad habits throughout their lives. It starts at school where teachers get kids to draw a house, you know, a flat box with a pointy roof, a window in each corner and a chimney with smoke coming out of it. I'm afraid it's down hill from there.
Drawing is simply about observation, nothing else. Observation, observation, observation! I say to people draw what you see, not what you know because you know nothing! However, they still revert to their old habits logging in to their memory banks to retrieve some stick man or two dimensional house.
The next hurdle seems to be to get people to loosen up a bit and draw freely and confidently. This is the main aim of my workshops anyway, so not a complete surprise, but again, I see this throw back to school where they draw a heavy outline or use little dotty-dashy strokes and with simple perspective turned into something a cubist may admire. Even holding a paintbrush seems to be quite an obstacle. Holding it like a pen right down at the bottom. Brush strokes like they are painting a barn door or little fussy, poky motions. Or painting up to the outlines like they are painting by numbers. I have to say, all this was quite a shock to me.
Still, I found out that after persevering, most students started to get the hang of it. It was quite liberating for both them and me. In a single session we are able to dispel many of the lifelong bad habits and end up with a painting worthy of framing and hanging. Okay, it may not be professional artist standard but they came a long way in just a few hours. Ultimately, there is no substitute for experience and that only comes with practise. The more they practise the techniques they learnt the more confident they become and that will show in their paintings.
Now, the way I paint is a little out of the ordinary anyway. It's sketchy and impressionistic to a degree and you don't have to do it like that but hopefully I can open your mind to a different way of doing things and you can then adapt it to suit yourself. One thing that I didn't expect was to have experienced professional artists come to my workshop. Quite intimidating at first but it goes to prove that as artists we never stop learning. It is always good to see how other artists work and glean useful information. It showed that really we are all beginners when learning someone else's technique.
So, for all you budding artists out there, there are are a few things to remember. Everyone can draw but not everyone can see. Observe, listen and practise, practise practise. Study other artists' techniques and no matter how experienced you are you can always learn more. And finally, watercolour can sometimes be frustrating but enjoy it. The more you do it the easier it becomes and you will soon be painting fantastic pictures with confidence.