I Used to be Afraid of Watercolor

I didn’t come to watercolor willingly, with open arms. I came to it more than 20 years after my best friend suggested I try it because she liked the way it looked and thought I would too.

This is an early image of my painting “Ever More” in progress. enjoy watching it unfold.

This is an early image of my painting “Ever More” in progress. enjoy watching it unfold.

I embraced watercolor when I moved to Honolulu. I lived in a tiny garage apartment, lovingly referred to as the cottage. I was an oil painter then and figured the fumes in that small a space would “kill” me — or significantly shorten my life.

You see, I was afraid of watercolor.

I’d heard “horror stories” about how hard it is to control. I’d heard, “It’s too unforgiving and you can’t make mistakes because you can’t paint over them.”

Of course, now that I know the joys of watercolor and understand how to work with it, I LOVE to paint with watercolor.

Now I joke that all of the horrible watercolor myths were started by an adept watercolor artist who didn’t want the share the wisdom the medium has to offer.

Let’s break it down, watercolor is “unforgiving”.

We’re talking about paint, not a separate physical person. Yet, one of my top ten tips for making watercolor more fun is to “make friends with watercolor.”

What’s going on here? What exactly are we talking about? Who is unforgiving? And with whom are you supposed to make friends?

No matter what you do or what medium you use, YOU are the main ingredient!

If you perceive watercolor as unforgiving, perhaps the lens needs to be turned around, pointing at the painter, rather than the paint.

Watercolor is paint. It has no power to forgive or to not forgive. Myth debunked.

Clearly, we knew that already so let’s dig deeper.

Are we saying one can’t make mistakes or that mistakes made with watercolor unforgivable or impossible to repair?

If that were true, no one would ever touch the stuff!

Everyone Everywhere Makes Mistakes!

Mistakes and “failures” line the path of growth, change, and success!

If you’re not looking for growth or change, stay away from watercolor.

If, however, you’re looking for a challenge and a partner in growth and change, Watercolor is your best friend.

To put this to rest, mistakes made with watercolor can be rectified. Depending upon how quickly the “mistake” is noticed, we either fix it before it’s dried or we figure out how to work it into the painting.

Either way, we’ve learned something new in the process.

Watercolor is a fun, fast painting medium, filled with as much beauty and joy as you allow yourself to feel. (Step into Your Next Space of Allowing!)

Step into YOUR Next Space of Allowing

Have you ever stopped yourself from doing or saying something you really want to do or say?

We all do so on occasion and sometimes we feel like we’re stopping ourselves All-The-Time.

Stopping ourselves, blocking our intuition, or our desires, is a learned habit.

The blocking started off with good intentions, yet somehow “STOP! Look Both ways before you cross the street!” became shorthand to simply “STOP!”

Habits, especially habits of thought, are often hard to break. It’s easier when we have a replacement habit or thought.

Earlier this year, as I was emerging from grieving my Dad’s death, a thought popped into my head:

“Step into Your Next Space of Allowing”

At the time, it felt monumental in importance, but I didn’t know what to do with it so I began to sketch it out. For something so simple, it took forever for me to “get it right”. It’s been a fun project and I have no idea where it might lead.

It’s grown to become my new go-to thought when I’m faced with a new thing I want to try, a new painting I want to start, anything new I’m afraid to say, etc.

We all fall into habits that we'd rather not fall into — and eventually we get ourselves out of them. Sometimes a reminder helps. That's what this “Step into” phrase has become — a gentle, loving reminder.

Life is about change — in EVERY MOMENT of EVERY DAY

No, we don’t always like the changes we have to make or accept the changes we feel being thrust upon us, by anyone — even by our own body.

Still, accepting and allowing change is a lot easier in the long run than resisting change often is.

This postcard-sized magnet is available now — read on :-)

This postcard-sized magnet is available now — read on :-)

I like the phrase so much that I created a postcard-sized magnet. It’s simple, straight forward, and tickles my fancy.

I ordered extras, so if you want one as a reminder, for yourself or as a gift, please send me a check or money order for $5/magnet and I’ll ship it right out to you! (PO Box 61707, Honolulu, HI 96839-1707)

Why Do I Paint and Why Should You Care?

I was once asked to give a two-minute talk to the Professional Women's Network on O‘ahu and decided to answer the above two questions as best I could. This is my answer.

I paint because I have an overwhelming need to feel connected to the world around me, to the people in it, and to the world within me — my inner self.

Some people connect through words, some through music, some by moving through space. I’m a visual connector in this world.

I long to bring others into connection with themselves through my paintings.

Paintings often tell stories. Some stories are evident right away, others unravel like mysteries, slowly unfolding the longer you look at them.

I paint both kinds of stories and include a "key" to understanding my ideas on the back of the painting/print.

It isn't essential for you to know what I am thinking about when I paint, but you might find it interesting. My thoughts are often helpful to understanding the title ... but not always.

Okay, so why should you care?

We live in an incredibly lush, beautiful, and BUSY world and sometimes we’re too busy to take the time to enjoy nature.

During the busy times, and during the quiet times, having one of my paintings or prints in your home or office can remind you of YOUR connection to something larger in life than your daily grind.

It’s always my intention to paint the energy, the life force, of my subject matter so that you will feel it when you look at my imagery.

My hope is that this feeling will help you connect with your inner self; and remind you of all that you are, and of all that you have to offer to the world.

Diamond Head changes color with the seasons. Sometimes it’s green, other times it’s quite brown. “Plumeria Skies” brings together two iconic images of Hawaii — Diamond Head and the Plumeria flowers long used in lei.

Diamond Head changes color with the seasons. Sometimes it’s green, other times it’s quite brown. “Plumeria Skies” brings together two iconic images of Hawaii — Diamond Head and the Plumeria flowers long used in lei.

Practical Magic — Sort of …

Practical Magic — Sort of …

Keeping track of our days, our accomplishments, joys, disappointments, and dreams, can infuse our lives with magical qualities. From the practical to the sublime, let me count the ways.

Read More

Lost and Found

Sometimes I get lost — not physically lost, I live on an island for goodness sake! I get emotionally lost.

Does that sound weird? It feels weird. How old do I have to be before I always remember “who I am” — on the inside?

I know I’m lost when I forget how to have fun, or what makes me feel good about myself and about life in general.

I get lost when I over-think or over-work or over-worry about anything.

Worry is a product of trying to control life. Control is tricky. It can be a verb or a noun, sometimes it’s “good” and sometimes “not so good”.

Self-control might be the only kind of control we actually have, and that’s not even always true.

We might like to think we can control outcomes. We can’t, not really.

Hopefully, we know we can’t control others! Although that doesn’t stop people from trying!

All we can hope to control is our response or reaction to the world around us.


My antidote to getting lost is to look for the ever-present magic and mystery in life and to share it with others. These are some of the talismans I keep to remind me that all of life is magical.

Forgetting that magic and mystery ARE ever-present is fatal to my well-being, and, I suspect, to that of others.


I find the magic and mystery in life when I remember to look!

Last week, when I felt lost, I asked IWS what to paint. She suggested I paint the energy of “Beauty, Magic, Mystery, and Joy”.

I gathered all the magical objects I’ve been saving — the kinds of things that evoke questions or are beautiful in and of themselves (at least to me).

Then I closed my eyes and waited to see what my mind’s eye suggested.


This involves getting out of the way and trusting that whatever comes to mind is the “right” thing to paint.

My “Hide-N-Seek” painting process is perfect for this magical task and the painting was begun.

“Beauty, Magic, Mystery, and Joy” has been evolving for the past two weeks.

I remind myself often to “only paint what I know to paint”. This means I take my time to “Stop, Look, and Listen” to my painting between brushstrokes.


Part of painting magic and mystery is to not “over explain.”

That way the viewer can find their own levels of mystery and magic within the painting.

Once you find your magic and mystery in my paintings, please email me to tell me what you’ve found: patrice@artofaloha.com