Learning to Paint with Watercolour Pencils

As one of the very first of my New Thing A Day challenges in 2015, I decided to try out a set of 24 of the Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer artists’ watercolour pencils which I had bought on a whim from Amazon. As a schoolgirl I had always preferred drawing and sketching to painting, so the idea of using pencils to paint really appealed to me, but I didn’t know how to use them or what to expect.

When I was younger, I had loved art: I was the Art Coordinator for my school house, I did Art & Design A Level, and by the age of sixteen I was lucky enough to secure an unconditional offer to study Fine Art at Art School.  But here’s the thing: once I finished school at eighteen, I chose to pursue an academic degree over Art School and I never again so much as picked up a pencil or paintbrush.

By 2015 it had been many, many years since I had done any painting or drawing.  I was nervous.

I sketched out a very simple drawing inspired by a photo I found on Google, lightly shading with a few different colours, and then went over it all with a clean wet paintbrush… all in all I think I only spent about five minutes on it but I was already hooked – these watercolour pencils were lots of fun to play with!

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So while this painting was drying I decided to do a quick sketch from a photo I had recently taken of Lila, one of our gorgeous Alaskan Malamutes… and watched my little sketch come to life as the colours spread and blended, becoming increasingly vibrant, as I went over the pencil strokes with a wet brush…

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At the time, I had no idea of the significance of this little personal challenge of mine.  I had not sketched or painted for so long, but when I picked up those watercolour pencils and finally put pencil to paper, that creativity that I had forgotten existed somewhere deep inside me was suddenly reignited, and my long dormant passion for arts and crafts reawakened.

That was 02 January 2015.  Two years later, my love and desire to express my creativity has not wavered or diminished since that day.  Watercolour pencils remain one of my favourite mediums to work in, and now I have upgraded to the full set of 120 shades.

So back to the day in question – I snapped photos on my phone of my two watercolour pencil paintings and posted them to my Facebook page right after I had done them.  The number of likes and comments I received from my friends and family was totally unexpected, but so encouraging…

Within hours I was approached by a dog charity I was involved with at the time, asking to use my painting of Lila as a design on products they were selling to raise funds to help dogs.  They asked if I could do more paintings for them.  Later, I was approached by a local card shop asking if I could produce a series of cards for them to sell.  Friends started messaging me, requesting paintings of their dogs!

At first I didn’t take any of it seriously, and then I got nervous and scared, and I wanted to say no to everything; but my husband told me to stop being so silly and to say yes – after all, wasn’t my New Year’s resolution to try out new things?  So I did.  I said yes to everything.  And it was amazing.

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More recently, I have been lucky enough to have the support and encouragement of some wonderful people on Instagram who have allowed me to paint their dogs to use as card designs. In the not too distant future, I would love to put together some designs for print on demand sites and perhaps even an Etsy store.

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This particular “something new” challenge actually helped me rediscover something I didn’t even realise I had lost…

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