3 Myths About Watercolors That Are Holding You Back

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When I decided to start painting with watercolors, I had zero hesitations. I got out some decade-old supplies, bought a cheap pad of watercolor paper and proceeded to figure out what to paint.

It was actually figuring out WHAT to paint that made me pause, but the desire and excitement was still there.

I didn’t give a second thought to whether or not it would be hard or if I would be terrible at it.

It might have been the art classes I took as a kid that gave me confidence. But I’m thinking it was more likely the thought of: “I’ll just trash this if it’s a disaster and no one will ever know” that allowed me to just give it a go.

Since joining the Instagram creative community, I’ve seen and heard many different reasons that people are hesitant with watercolor painting (and really just creating in general).

And you know what? All of them are not true.

They are limiting beliefs, false stories people are telling themselves. They are myths.

Here are 3 common myths about watercolors I observed that hold people back.

1. I am not creative
2. I need to be able to draw
3. I should start with student grade supplies - I’m not good enough to use artist grade

Sound familiar? I wouldn’t be surprised! I am a strong believer that everyone is creative and can create. So I’m going to go into each myth below and give my opinion on why I believe these are myths and hopefully if you’ve been telling yourself any of these untrue stories, it will encourage you to move past them and just paint!


Myth #1: “I am not creative”

So you don’t think you’re the creative, artsy-crafty-type? Guess what? You don’t need to be the type of person that took summer art classes as a child, knits homemade sweaters or frosts the perfect cupcake. Watercoloring is just you, some paint, brushes, and paper. No other artsy-crafty skills required.

If you think you’re not creative, I’d like to remind you that you were born creative. You made art when you were a child, imagined up fanciful worlds, sang, and danced without judging yourself.

Maybe you just haven’t done anything creative recently so you forgot that you have that creativity in you. Think about it like this - maybe watercolors is how you rediscover your creativity. Why not give it a chance?

  • Adopt a creative process for yourself to get into the mindset.

  • Read a book on creativity. This one (affiliate link) is what initially inspired me to get back into art in the first place. I highly recommend it.

  • If you’ve been away a while from creating, you’ve just been on a long break! Read about my creative break and see if it inspires you to return from yours!

Myth #2: “I need to be able to draw”

I hear this one A LOT. Sure, being able to draw is helpful. But not for the reason you may think. Knowing how to draw is really combining two skills:

1. Control of the pen or pencil with your hand
2. How to see. In other words: your power of observation

If you look at drawing this way, you don’t need to draw in order to watercolor. Watercoloring is the same thing as drawing but instead of using a pen or pencil, you’re using a brush.

If you feel more comfortable drawing, thing about your pencil sketch as rough guidelines and not a finished piece. Just some basic shapes to help you know that you have your proportions and layout right and you’re good to go. See, it’s not really drawing, think about it like you are planning out your painting!

So I encourage you not to let this myth stop you from painting. Pick up your brush, learn how to control it and what it is capable of by practicing some brush exercises and keep painting. Paint from reference photos, or better yet from real life inspiration. The more you paint, the more you practice your observational skills and the more you’ll continue improving!


Myth #3: “I should start with student grade supplies - I’m not good enough to use artist grade”

Even if we don’t say this out loud, I think many of those just starting out allow this myth to guide their supply-purchasing decisions. I know I did. I told myself I should use my old no-name supplies from elementary school because I didn’t know what I was doing.

There is a major pitfall that this myth leads people into. Let’s say someone starting with watercolors decides they aren’t good enough for good quality paper and opt for lightweight, low quality paper. The results simple will not be the same. If this person tries repeatedly to achieve results that their supplies will not allow them to, it’s possible he or she would give up. Worst-case scenario they tell themselves it was because they couldn’t watercolor - when in reality, the supplies were holding them back!

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on watercolors to start, but you DO need to start off with supplies that will support your creative adventures.

In fact, the bare essential supplies I recommend for starting with watercolors if you’re on a budget will only run about $20.

Here are some resources if you’re overwhelmed with starting are looking for some guidance:

If you have heard any of these myths and have allowed any of them to hold you back from painting, I hope that this post helped dispel them. The most important thing about learning watercolors is to be kind to yourself and remember to have fun with it. Know that if you continue to show up, you’ll make progress. Don’t let these myths hold you back!

Thanks for reading,