Have you ever watched a small child play with watercolors — her brush sloshing red paints upon paper affixed to an easel, her brown eyes alive with discovery, her brunette braids pirouetting upon shoulders covered by a smock? How her dimpled hand swishes the brush in a tub of water, then swipes up yellow? Grins as orange appears upon her new playground? How jars of green and blue promise more surprises? How a low hum enlivens the Kindergarten classroom?

Glen Ridge Elemntery School

Such was my experience at Glenridge Elementary School, long years ago. More education, including advanced degrees, successfully distanced me from that curious child strangely enlivened by riotous colors splotching white spaces. Yet she continually disturbed my visits to art studios, museums, galleries; she ached to pick up a brush, again create messes of color. Quickly dismissed were watercolor classes offered at numerous venues. I had other tasks more pressing to tend to.

But a breakthrough occurred during a recent workshop facilitated by a wise woman-artist. We were six sitting around her painter-cloth table, marked by others’ forays into the world of watercolor we were preparing to enter. In melodious tones, she demonstrated two techniques: wet on wet and wet on dry, striping sheets with rainbow colors. She also introduced us to our sable brushes, our tins of Prang semi-moist watercolors, our sheets of 140 pound weight, our tubs of water, our paper towels, and small sponges and salt shakers – all neatly set before us, as if invited to a banquet. And what a banquet it turned out to be. Uneasiness passed among us. We waited.

Tranquil strains from a CD informed this wise woman’s voice as she led us in brief mediation, then invited us to pick up our brushes and begin.

I did, my brush limp in my hand as I sprinkled drops of water into each of the colors in my tin, then wet my sheet, then stroked it with red as if it were my lover. I warmed to that little child at Glenridge Elementary School, now grinning at me. It had been too long. She wanted more. Then came riotous colors blending, bleeding into each other; they knew what to do. I did not. Time had stopped.

First Water Color

Then, on to the next technique, wet on dry. More gladness infused me, listening for direction for the next stroke; it came, one flower after another — reds, oranges, blues, and yellows appeared upon my sheet. Then it happened, my engagement with Inner Painter, exactly like Inner Writer, twins of giftedness stemming from the same Source. I was profoundly nourished. I rested knowing I had been visited, then rejoiced in others’ discoveries.

Water Color #2

Should your inner child nudge you toward one of the arts, I invite you to surrender. Technique can always be learned later.