A Watercolor Journey of Liberation
Stepping into the world of watercolor is often met with a ton of internal resistance, especially from beginners. You might think you’re alone in feeling this way, but trust me, it’s so common. I’ve been there too, struggling with insecurities and fighting my intuition rather than following it. This self-doubt can be paralyzing. It keeps us from pursuing our goals, expanding our creativity, and being our authentic selves.
People constantly tell me things like, “Oh, I’m not the creative one in my family,” or “I’m not artistic—my mom is the artistic one.” The underlying mindset: I could never do that.
Letting you in on a little (not so secret) secret, you totally can do it. But to get there involves moving beyond self-doubt and stepping into that confident, empowered version of yourself. Releasing those limitations and the belief of “not being creative enough” is the key to embracing the artist within.
Ready to unlock your creative freedom? Ahead, I’m sharing my top 7 tips and strategies to overcome self-doubt as a beginner watercolor artist and how you can take action right now.
1. Lower the Stakes to Gain Confidence
When you’re first getting started, it can seem like there is so much pressure to prove your success and creativity. Which honestly is crazy! Especially for beginners dipping their brushes into a new medium like watercolor that’s filled with trial and error.
My best suggestion? Lower the stakes. Don’t put pressure on creating a “perfect” piece. Instead, focus on showing up and cultivating the joy that sparked your interest in watercolor in the first place.
Creating a dedicated watercolor journal can be your low-stakes place where you play freely without judgment or expectations. I tell my students to try to paint something every day in their journals, even if it’s just a little doodle. This is beyond helpful for several reasons:
🌗 For one, it takes the pressure off churning out painting after accomplished painting. (Which is so unrealistic, by the way!)
🌑 Having creative confidence takes practice. A daily journal practice is exactly that: a dedicated practice that keeps you moving toward confidence and prowess. Even the tiniest doodle is a lesson in play and letting go of perfectionism.
🌓 If you dabble in watercolor for relaxation or for self-care, a watercolor journal can be a stress-free zone where you sit, paint, and relax into the process.
🌕 A watercolor journal can be your dedicated place to daydream and let your mind roam freely. Similar to morning pages or a writing journal, the paintings in your watercolor journal can be stream-of-consciousness explorations that strengthen your creativity and clear away any negative beliefs.
2. For your eyes only
Sharing your work to the world can feel daunting. I’ve experienced it too. We’re social beings by nature, and our desire to fit in and feel appreciated is deeply ingrained, which is why social media can feel like a necessary step in your art journey.
Of course, sharing your work has its benefits, but in the beginning, I’ve learned that the pressure to post or create pieces that are “good enough” to share with others often fosters more fears and self-doubt rather than the happy validations we long for.
To develop creative confidence and break free from self-doubt, it’s essential to recognize that the value of your work isn’t based on the opinions of others. Internal validation is all that matters (it sounds cheesy, but it’s true!). So keep things for your eyes only until it feels right to share—and if that’s never, that’s okay too!
3. Harvest some inspiration
Ahhh, the dreaded blank page. If you’re facing some creative roadblocks and want to start painting but aren’t sure where to start, try finding inspiration from anything and everything around you.
I love this quote from Paul Strand: “The artist’s world is limitless. It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away. It is always on his doorstep.” Essentially, if you’re in need of some inspo to get those creative juices flowing, go find some!
If you love red, for instance, you could collect every red item in your house you find interesting and paint it. Or, if your muse is Mother Nature, get outside and forage for inspiration! I promise, there is beauty worth painting all around you.
4. Get a teacher
One of my top tips for going from full of self-doubt to empowered artist is to get a teacher—like me! (Hi there ☺) For those who don’t know, I’m a Hudson Valley watercolor artist and teacher who has helped hundreds of students learn to trust their intuition and watercolor with confidence and ease.
You’ll discover free workshops, painting meditations, and all things intuitive watercolor on my YouTube channel. This is a low-stakes safe space for harvesting inspiration to capture in your journal or getting into the flow state with mindful watercolor techniques.
If you want to take it a step further, my Intro to Intuitive Watercolors course is a beginner-friendly deep dive into mastering the foundations of watercolor and strengthening your creative intuition so you can leave self-doubt behind and learn to paint anything with confidence.
I teach my students to center their watercolor practice around self-care, relaxation, and self-discovery. Throughout this creative journey, they’re not only developing their skill and confidence but also tapping into their unique inner voice and saying *see-ya* to any self-doubt.
5. Paint the seasons
Grounding your painting process in the present moment is another great way to quiet those limiting beliefs and doubts. Similar to finding inspiration from Mother Nature herself, painting the seasons can be a profound way to tap into your intuition.
There’s no right or wrong here, only exploration. For example, you can study the crisp colors of autumn and how they make you feel. Or you could practice intuitive paintings of fresh spring blooms, experimenting with different leaves and petals to unveil your own mindful watercolor techniques.
6. Play for Creative Confidence!
Who needs a step-by-step tutorial? Not you. I have gained so much confidence in my painting just by allowing myself to play and letting my intuition guide the way. Learning from others is a fantastic tool for developing your craft, but if you’re constantly following tutorials or taking in outside opinions, it can be hard to discover your OWN artistic voice.
By not following how-tos on painting a technically “perfect” peony, I inherently brought feeling and authenticity into my work. So just start painting! And see where your intuition leads you when you take the pressure off and play.
7. Learn in person
If you’re craving hands-on guidance and are ready to take the next step in your watercolor practice, consider joining me in person at my next live watercolor class! These workshops are an incredible place for beginner watercolorists and creatives wanting to develop their practice in a supportive and comforting environment.
Together, we’ll help you move past creative limitations and find confidence in your work, all while learning mindful watercolor techniques rooted in self-care. Explore my upcoming watercolor workshops here. Spots are limited and sell out fast! SO be sure to sign up for my newsletter to be notified first of any upcoming events.