How I Got Started With Painting

True story: if you told me 10 years ago that today I would be an artist, I would have laughed...hard.  So I wanted to share a little bit about how I got started with painting, in the hopes that if there's something you want to do and think isn't possible, my story might inspire you to try. 

Yes, that's me above, circa 1989 or so...I used to carry that paint brush around with me everywhere. Maybe it was a sign back then!

Creative, but not "artistic"
Growing up, I was always a creative and entrepreneurial kid - I loved arts and crafts, learned to sew when I was 9, and started several "businesses" selling things I made to my friends throughout elementary to high school.  But I didn't think I had the talent that my sister naturally did when it came to drawing, I struggled in art class with any kind of assignment that required drawing. And in order to paint, I was told I had to be able to draw first. To me, being "artistic" seemed to be a skill that some people were just born with. But I loved making things! So I put any thoughts or ideas of that kind of art on the back-burner, instead focusing on sewing and making all of the clothes in my wardrobe, even my wedding dress.

Hello, 2020
Right before the pandemic set-in, I picked up a set of watercolor paints and a book at Dick Blick, right after watching some videos I stumbled across on YouTube. It looked so fun! And an accessible medium for someone like me that didn't have confidence in drawing!  I can paint fun things, like fruits and turtles? Ok! At first though, what I made was...not great at all (the below is one of my early attempts at florals!).

With the world shutdown soon after and nowhere to go, sewing no longer appealed to me and I spent all of my free time trying to figure out how to paint everything I possibly could. I found free video tutorials online, sites that actually encouraged me to trace outlines so I didn't have to worry about the drawing (that's a thing??), and kept at it almost daily. I was amazed at how quickly my skills grew within that first year.

My first floral painting...I've come a long way today!

Three years later
What I've learned in the time since I first picked up a paintbrush is that natural talent is only a small portion of what makes an artist successful. Anyone can learn to draw, or paint, or play an instrument if they put in the time, dedication, and consistency to practice, practice, practice. I attribute all of the time I put in over the last three years (which has been a lot) to where I am today, which was a silver lining of the pandemic for me.

With my painting, "Chinese New Year," last November at the Newburyport Art Association Fall Juried Show
I now exhibit in juried shows regularly with watercolor societies and art associations in my area, won an award last year, met so many new friends, and sold a few original paintings at plein air events and online through my website. Again - all of this seemed like such an impossibility just a few years ago when I started out. 
I even took a small painting kit with me on a trip to AZ and plein air painted at the Grand Canyon last month!
My hope is that if there's a hobby or something that you've been thinking about doing, but think that you can't, that my story serves as proof that it is absolutely possible. Go out there and start!

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