Failed Watercolor Challenge

I’ve been thinking whether or not I should write about my failed attempt to paint every day for 30 days straight. It’s embarrassing to announce to the world I will be working on something and then admit out loud I wasn’t able to keep my word.

Well, I guess it’s more difficult to admit it to myself than fear what others might think. Because let’s be honest, nobody else really cares about my personal challenges.

Anyway, on March 1st I started 30-day watercolor wreath painting challenge. Committing to a daily practice was exciting and nerve-racking both at the same time but I was determined to improve my skills and learn more about myself. Here’s how it went.

Week one

It just happened that the first week of the challenge was also my first week at the new job. Needless to say, stress levels were sky high. I was even thinking of postponing the challenge but in the end, I decided to stick to the initial plan.

Achievements. Every evening after dinner I would make myself a cup of tea, light a candle and sit down to paint. I didn’t skip a single day, and I felt great about it.

I prepared for next day’s painting session the same night. I would wash brushes, change water and clean the palette. Doing this eliminated procrastination time the next day – here, just sit down and paint!

Struggles. As I was looking through paintings from the first week I noticed that most leaves on the wreaths are the same, color and shape wise. I took a mental note to work on it next week.

Week two

I started off the second week with shining confidence. “First week went smoothly, I can do this”, I remember thinking. However, I overestimated my situation. Having a new work schedule meant I had to make changes to my daily routine. Not only I had to wake up earlier, I was coming home a lot later than usual. I felt drained, and the only things I had on my mind once I got home in the evening were food and sleep.

That’s when I started skipping a day or two of painting. I would, of course, promise myself I’ll catch up tomorrow or the day after.

Achievements. Even though I didn’t paint every day, I managed to catch up and have 7 paintings ready by the end of the week. Nevertheless, I felt guilty for not sticking to the initial plan of painting every day.

Even though week two wasn’t easy, I tried my best to experiment more with color mixing and I could see a positive change in greens.

Struggles. As leaves were becoming more interesting, I started noticing that all blossoms are looking the same too. Needless to say, you could barely tell them apart.

Week three

This is when things started getting really difficult. Not only I felt too tired to paint after work, I also noticed that I’m rushing while painting. As a result, painting became a chore that I was trying to get done fast. I didn’t like the complete pieces but I also didn’t have energy and willingness to start over. And for that, I was angry at myself.

With decreasing interest and willingness to keep going, I decided to take things easy and paint when I have time to put my heart into it. Of course, this happened mostly during weekends.

Week four never came around. By the end of the month, I had 18 watercolor wreath cards and a barely there interest to paint more of them.

What I’ve learned

Committing to a 30-day challenge can teach you a lot, there’s no denying it. However, trying to commit to it and failing to do so teaches you as much.

During two weeks of painting almost every day I understood that I need to experiment more with color mixing. On the other hand, I found colors that I enjoy painting with. I think it’s a little too early to call it my color palette but as for now, I enjoy warm greens for leaves and dusky pinks and oranges for blossoms.

Another thing I desperately need to work on is patience. I spoke about practicing patience before, and I think most people would agree that sometimes, if not always, we wish things to come in the blink of an eye. However, in order to acquire a new skill you need to work hard and give yourself time to fail, get up and try again.

I failed and gave up this time, and trust me when I say it doesn’t feel good. But I choose to believe it’s part of a learning process that I have to accept.

What I would do differently

If I were to commit to a similar challenge in the future, I would try to find time for painting at a different time of the day. Instead of evenings, I would try waking up 30 minutes earlier to get the days task out of the way first thing in the morning. I would also try being less stubborn about changing my daily schedule to sneak in some painting time in it.

I would be lying if I said that my failed attempt to practice watercolor every day didn’t discourage me to keep painting. I did start questioning myself and my true intentions of wanting to learn this skill. But I once again learned that things don’t always go to plan and it doesn’t mean by default that something is not for you. In fact, I realized how much I want to improve my watercolor skills. And if it will take me longer than I initially imaged, that’s fine.

If you are thinking of committing to any challenge, let it be learning a new skill or developing a new habit – do it. You will learn a lot, a lot more than you would think.

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