Well, one more go, and I think I’ll have accomplished what I’m after with the drafts.

A process like the one I’ve gone through here is a big part of why I think people give up on watercolor.

I have made 19 different versions of this painting here, (not to mention the slew of pencil sketches that I haven’t recorded). I don’t know how many hours I have spent writing and evaluating each attempt. And when all is said and done, the final product will be painted in an hour or two.

When I watch skilled artists paint with watercolor, they make it look effortless, easy, and fast. If I compare my own labored approach to the ease with which they can achieve better results, I get demotivated. I think, I’m just not talented enough, forgetting that the artist in watching is only able to achieve those results because they have spent years and years perfecting their techniques and style so that they can produce art with such relative ease.

I’m trying to ignore those nagging lies that tell me I’m just not good enough. I’m trying to avoid comparing myself to the artists I admire so deeply. I’m constantly reminding myself that I don’t have to be better than Castagnet, or Zbukvic. I only have to be better than I was yesterday.

In short, mastering this medium takes years of practice, loads of dedication, and a bit of luck. So when someone asks how long it takes to paint a watercolor painting, I like to say “Three years, so far.” Because even though a painting might go from blank paper to finished painting in the matter of a few hours, it’s only because of the years of prior effort.

If you are struggling with watercolor, please, keep going. Keep practicing. Keep challenging yourself, and trying to do just one thing a little better next time. As I like to say, there’s only one way to get better.

Any way – here’s my 18th attempt.

For number 19, I’m going to go back to painting the sky on its own, then paint the water. I’ll use dry brush strokes for the glitter on the water at the horizon, and wet in wet to bring that down to the bottom of the page. But next time, I’ll try to make that water smoother by applying the pigment more quickly, and using fewer colors.

I’ll also try moving the glare to the left a bit so it’s not hiding below the overhanging branches.

I didn’t render the reflection of the leaves as well as I would have liked, probably because I was painting with too small of a brush.

I like the sky. I like the overhanging branch. I like the trees on the peninsula, and the water lillies. The only thing I really need to work on is the surface of the water itself… we’ll see how that goes…

Number 19:

What a junk drawer of a painting. Blech!

Ugh. I’m tired, I probably shouldn’t even have tried to paint tonight, because I am exhausted, but I did… because I think I know better.

I’m going to take tomorrow off from painting. And I’m going to just say eff it, and try the full sized version this weekend. Worst-case scenario, I ruin a sheet of paper, and I’m out $30.