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Do you know the feeling artists?  I’m usually a “dive in” and “see what happens” kind of person. I have been presented with a challenge to attempt a watercolor of this store. I love the whole appearance of the place and am anxious to see what I can do with it. …BUT!  When I spent two nights just getting the drawing down and all the little pieces and parts that little voice inside me said, “Oh! You’ve done it this time. This may be too much for you!”

I have had to tell myself I may have chosen the wrong texture of watercolor paper for this (rough). I have reconciled myself to the fact that I need to give this drawing a “go” and re-draw it on a coldpress surface if I don’t like the outcome and maybe even a hotpress surface due to the detail in it. I have had to remind myself of the many tools and techniques I have to see this through to the finish. More importantly, I had to tell myself that this is a piece of paper and that I have more where it came from if the first take does not work. Sometimes I think I get in a mindset that every single venture has to be a finished project when I, perhaps, might choose to view each piece of paper as a learning experience.

Wish me luck. I will surely share the journey with you on this one!


  1. Oh, I am going to love to watch this process! I will be getting up a blog re your canyons to condors painting next week, I hope. Life has been crazy. In addition to what I mention on my blog – I’ve got my builder pressuring me to do the painting!!

    • My life is crazy, too, Kate. Never enough time, right now, it seems. Thank you!

  2. Have no fear, my friend! You will make it wonderful! You already have a great starting place with the beautiful drawing! I think one of the reasons I make such curvy architecture is because it makes me loosen the tight grip I have on the pencil. I’m freer to do it without all the stress of perfect perspective, etc. I can’t wait to see this finished. Don’t forget to have fun!

    • I love your curvey lines in your paintings, Beth. I also admire your ability to simplify the complex and it come out with awesome color and composition. Thank you!

  3. Good Luck Les!

  4. First of all, wonderful sketch! I love the ice machine and the benches and other bits. I would personally be worried about painting such fine details, but you have a heck of a lot of painting under your belt. It would be sad if it turned out you used the wrong paper, but I find in those situations the second sketch is easier to draw, and equally good if not better. Also, it’s so funny that you’re doing this now because one of the other art blogs I’ve followed for ages is doing her first architectural work using a loose watercolor style (and it is looking really great). In case it might provide a little insight, Ruth’s Artwork:

    As for the fear of failure – all the time, Leslie! Compared to many of you longtime artists, I lost about 20 years not doing art and feel like I’m never going to catch up. So, each piece for me actually is a learning experience, and I do recognize all kinds of little parts of every piece that could be better. But I’m getting better about the way I think about them. As long as your fear doesn’t keep you from putting pencil (or brush, or pen) to paper, you have no choice but to work through it. I can live with that. Can’t wait to see what happens!

    • Thank you for the “wonderful sketch”, Cindy. I’m going to carry that into this painting with me and try to hold the positive message you sent me, here.
      I think part of the fear is the size I needed to keep this to. I have been working larger than this and I don’t select a frameable size, usually, because I use a framer; but was asked to with this so the owner could buy framing supplies for it more affordably. I sort of tear my paper and lay my paintings out to what feels good for me. That said, it has been awhile since I have painted something like this but I can always do it over. 🙂 Thanks again!

  5. Good luck Leslie. I have those same feelings of doubt all the time. I’ve been practising skylines on small waste bits of watercolour paper, I seem to worry less for some reason knowing that it would go in the bin anyway. Plus, I’ve been more daring too. I’m sure your painting will be wonderful.

    • Thank you, Keith. How about sharing some of the skylines? Would love to see them. What fun! Clouds are always fun to experiment with, also. I just need to take the time to concentrate on this. Had to set it back a week while I worked through something for class this week.

  6. Faith: a strong and complete confidence in a person or plan etc…. Oh do I have faith in you on this one. As Nike would say, if Nike was a person… “just do it.” Can’t wait to follow and see the finished product

    • I should send this one to you, Ryan. I know you would enjoy this one and do a great job. As soon as I get into it, I am hoping that love of creating and enjoyment of watching the color and the water take over will banish some of the fear. I’ll do it over if I can’t get the detail to read on the rough paper. Thank you for the confidence. Yay for fellow artists!

  7. It is, indeed, just a piece of paper. When fear of failure creeps in I stop having fun and the lack of joy shows in my painting. Yes, paintings can be “salvaged” but the joy is still not there. I put on great music, do a few warm up doodles, splash some paint on other pieces of paper and then turn to face my fears with a lighter heart. When my children were small and had an occasional monster showing up in a dream, I suggested they ask the monster to tea instead of running away. It worked every time!

    • You are so right that “fear” shows in a painting. I will definitely take your advice and play music and doodle, especially color combinations. Thank you for the encouragement, Chris!

  8. Ha, Leslie, you are going to find out that architecture is fun. Many people think it is all about straight lines but it is not. Most architectural materials actually have some curve and texture to them. I love your subject. A slight suggestion if I may and you end up redrawing. Drop the lower perspective line a little on the posts. It seems slightly severe to my eye.

  9. Good luck. 🙂

  10. Leslie, I have been there and I know exactly what you are talking about! But I do have the confidence in what you are going to end up with , a great result as usual, but the time to go through it may be a kind of pushing yourself a bit all the way, but it is going to be a great learning experience and a measure for your tenacity, good luck and look fwd to seeing it soon!

  11. I for one do not expect you to fail. The drawing is already wonderful and you are an extraordinary artist. Put your heart in it and it will sing.

  12. I feel like I must give a practical advice here, it is after all how I work – exactly my process. But, as you may have surmised yourself, there isn’t really much to say. It is all about knowing your stages (comp, drawing, blocking, layering, details, and so on) and going after each one with deliberation. Getting each phase down the best way you can before moving on to the next. There’s no rushing it. It is better to abandon the piece at an earlier stage and start anew (if so warranted), than to push through and find yourself in the middle of color layering and a messed up perspective. Or some such. But you know all this. Try your best not to fret and work deliberately. Will follow you with empathy and great interest!

    • You are, of course, correct in what you say, here, Alex. I think when someone asks me to try to do something, I get more critical of myself than at times when I just dive in to a project I’ve decided to do. Perhaps I need to focus on this a little more as though it was for me and not someone else. I’m not rushing it, for sure, as I needed to address a project I’m working on to share with my class tomorrow night, so this is on hold till next week. Thank you, especially for the empathy! 🙂

  13. You can do it

  14. I discovered you must have a growth mindset focus on the opportunity. Understand that you WILL sometimes fail but your failures DO NOT DEFINE WHO YOU ARE. Do not assume you are defective if something goes wrong (I got an ‘D’ on my calculus exam means I need to try a different approach; it does not mean I am a stupid person). It’s important to have a growth mindset that focuses on challenges. Seeing that opportunities give you the chance to try something new – even if it means you might not perform well. You absolutely will slow but surely improve if you don’t take failure to heart.

    I actually wrote a full article on my blog, please feel free to check it out my other inspirational articles.

    • Thank you so much for the visit and the sharing of your post on fear of failure. I received a “D” in a required Soc class in college and had to take it over. Aced it the second time through. I just didn’t get it the first time. My Dad laughed about the “D” and said he was glad to know, finally, that I was normal, whatever that meant. I always went for perfection in those days. Now? Sometimes a daunting challenge is exciting but sometimes intimidatingand restricting. I think we get revisited from time to time just to keep us on our toes. 🙂 Thank you!

  15. Good luck Leslie, but I’m sure you don’t need it. You already have a great start, but if you’re unhappy with it, you can try it again. I think all of us have great faith in your abilities. You should too. Can’t wait to see what you end up with.

    • You are so right! I can do it again. You did that scene with the church steeple in the distance twice, right? I remember when I practiced clouds and painted them over and over and over again. Thank you for the encouragement on this one, Carol!

      • I most certainly did that rooftop scene twice. And other things I’ve done more than once as well. I like doing things over and over. Gives me a different perspective on the piece itself and a chance to try new techniques at the same time.

      • That’s the way I’m going to approach this. I like that idea about new perspective and technique. Thank yopu! 🙂

  16. Leslie, You didn’t say how large the paper is. If you have to redo you might use a fairly large sheet of paper. That said, you can do it. You are a wonderful artist with skill, talent and great color sense. I have faith that you will make this a wonderful representation – if not the first time, the second or third. It is JUST a piece of paper and I have painted a subject two or three times before I achieve a result I’m satisfied with. We are our own worst critics! Hang in there.

    • I think it is 11 x 14 is how I cut it. Anyway, I felt I needed to do that as the person’s funds are limited for framing. This way she can purchase pre-cut archival matte and mounting board and frame more reasonably. That is part of my fear as I am used to a larger format. I will just need to downsize my brushes I use. Thank you, Linda!

  17. I literally just wrote a post about this last night! Weird how great minds think alike! haha

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  1. By Old Mission General Store « Leslie White on 12 May 2012 at 12:08 pm

    […] this post?  The above painting is what I came up with. In the long run, I like that I used rough Arches […]

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