Starting a New Hobby: Water Colour Painting

The entrance to Simpson's Gap, Alice Springs from the car park.

I could feel the itch under my skin; the need to be colourful, peaceful but loud, and outdoors. This is not a new feeling, and is one I’ve felt often over the past four years. I’m a high school teacher so I am blessed with some opportunities to release this creativity through assessment and resource creation and lesson planning, but it doesn’t always feel like enough.

I feel like I used to be a very creative person before I started university. There, I felt every ounce of my creativity drained from me and replaced with analysis, evaluation and stress. I didn’t notice it happening at first, but once I did, everything began to make sense. Suddenly I realised why I’d started to itch; why I’d started to feel immensely unfulfilled. I needed some more creativity in my life.

Over the past 6 months I’ve been more actively considering taking up a creative hobby but I couldn’t decide what art I should pick. I had been considering water colour painting but never really committed. I think I was plagued with thoughts of being a failed Michelangelo and this stopped me from committing to trying it out. I took it as a sign on Christmas day when I received a pocket water colour kit, but I still didn’t put it to use until recently (almost 2.5 months after I received it!)

Wild at Heart Watercolor Paint Set at Simpson's Gap, Alice Springs

The Red Centre has been strangely gifted with some amazing weather and after a particularly stressful past couple of weeks at work, I decided to take advantage of the weather and get outdoors. What better way to do this than to take my watercolour kit out with me to a local watering hole (literally) and try my hand at water colour painting. And alas, the adventure began.

I went to Simpson’s Gap which is located only 18 kilometres from the CBD and is just one of the prettiest places around. I arrived just as a tour bus was leaving, so I ended up with the whole place to myself, and it was blissful.

A view of the inside of Simpson's Gap with the water contrasting against the red rocks.
Tyunpe: A Place of Lizards sign at the entrance to Simpson's Gap, Alice Springs

I set myself up in the shade of the red rocks near the water and began to paint the scene in front of me. I focused on my task, occasionally swatting at flies and listening to the local bird song. Once I’d finished, exactly what I thought was going to happen, happened. My painting kinda sucked. Actually, it was truly awful, and you wouldn’t be able to tell what it was if I didn’t photograph it next to the scenery.

My first attempt at watercolor painting at Simpson's Gap, Alice Springs

So I decided to try again. This time I attempted to paint a lone tree growing out of the side of the gorge. This went much better until I ruined it by trying to paint the background. Clearly, painting isn’t a strength of mine.

I'm holding a painting of a tree growing our of the side of Simpson's Gap, Alice Springs

Despite this, I really enjoyed the experience and want to do it again. I think I might watch a couple of videos on Youtube to teach me some tips and tricks, so hopefully I will improve.

The only advice I can give you if you are thinking of starting a creative hobby is to just do it. It feels really good to be creative and there are plenty of studies to confirm the relationship between improved mental health and art.

Are you a painter? Share your tips and tricks below!

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