Let’s Talk about Creating Watercolors… in Bed

In the spirit of transparency and in an effort to not waste your time, I’m not a watercolor expert. In fact, I’ve had no art training whatsoever. However, I am experienced, after five years, in finding inexpensive ways to enrich my life, while spending my days in bed, with osteoarthritis in my hands and several chronic illnesses, which keep me house bound and sometimes bed bound. Just in case you’re here looking for actual artist tips, I thought I’d be upfront with you as I don’t want you to be disappointed.  

If you’re new to chronic illness or are bedbound or housebound for any other reason, you may be looking for things to do with your time. Let’s face it the days can become tediously long without much to do and after a while it really starts to wear on you. As some of you may know when I was first chronically ill I tried to learn crochet. It was fun, and with the literal step-by-step guidance of YouTube tutorials (and heavy use of the pause and rewind features) and stitch markers (brain fog), I made some neat blankets and little bits and bobs, but as with everything else in life, I learned a few things along the way. The thing about crochet is that, obviously, each project takes yarn, some take SO much yarn! I’m no longer able to just jump in the car and get new yarn (I’m no longer able to drive; my car was actually sold.), so I resorted to buying it online, but being rather new to yarn I never really knew if I was ordering the right product. Also, there’s an expense there, and I didn’t, and still don’t, have the money coming in to buy yarn. So, every purchase meant asking for money to do it, and then you struggle with the thought of ‘is this a need or a want’. Blah blah blah…if you’ve been there you know exactly what I mean. And lastly, my shoulder froze up and I had to stop, so that was the end of crochet for me. I have made a few little bits since with leftover yarn and hope to make another blanket someday but for now, I’m holding off. I will say, it’s a great project for those of us that spend our days in bed! It just helps to have a bit of knowledge about yarn, or the ability to get to the store to pick out your yarn, and a crafts income. So, without crochet I set off to find a new project. I’d wanted to take a watercolor class before I got sick (I’d never tried watercolor before, but I find it beautiful!), so I thought, since I’d learned so much about crochet through YouTube, that watercolors might be just the thing.

For my birthday that year I received a starter watercolor set. It had almost everything I needed. It contained: paint, paper, watercolor pencils, so many brushes, a color wheel, a small easel, and a few other things that I still have no idea what they are for. 😊 I started out by watching a few watercolor tutorial videos and realized that this was going to be a ‘learn as you go’ experience. I tried following along with a few tutorials but always felt like my work fell drastically short of the outcome of the artists. Actually, I still feel that way. So, I decided to just do my own thing. (Including a photo of my first attempt at watercolor here, and honestly, I’d hoped to get better over time, but don’t really feel that I have.)

First attempt at watercolor.

I learned right away that the little wooden easel was awkward and hurt my legs, so I found a soft bound watercolor book to paint in as it provides the hard surface needed, while still being small, lightweight, and manageable. I will add that I only do bits at a time. My hands cramp up and pop in and out of socket (I know, weird) so I have to allow them to relax, and had to learn to pace myself. Pre-illness I was a blaze-from-one-project-to-the-next kind of person, so this was a big hurdle for me. I keep all my supplies within arms reach and the only thing that requires me to get out of bed is getting fresh water to rinse my brushes. The most recent addition to my watercolor journey has been an artist lamp for my nightstand lamp and it’s been a big help. It has a variety of brightness settings and it twists and turns in all kinds of directions. So that’s a bit about my journey, and below are a few things I’ve learned along the way, numbered in case you like to skip to the numbered parts (I don’t judge I’m totally guilty of doing this too to save spoons 😉): 

  1. You can get a beginner watercolor set, which includes nearly everything you’d need to get started.
  2. Watercolor paint lasts seemingly forever! I’m still using paint from the original kit I received three years ago. I have received a few other paints as gifts, but I haven’t had to buy any new paints in three years. Don’t get me wrong, you can spend tons of money on paint if you want, but for me I don’t need fancy paint as the whole process is just for fun and healing.
  3. I’ve only had to replace one brush. Lesson learned on that one as I didn’t know you shouldn’t repeatedly leave your brush in water overnight. Oops, live in learn.
  4. The only real reoccurring expense has been paper, which isn’t really that much. It’s like $12 for 48 sheets and I order it on Amazon Prime. The watercolor book I use is pictured. Image-1.png
  5. Some people use easels on a bed tray or table, but I’ve found that the watercolor art journal provides enough backing to draw and paint without needing further support. Lifting my arms to the easel hurt my arms and neck but with the book I can rest my arms on pillows and the book in my lap. Another great thing about the books is that you can keep them on a book shelf to look through or pass down.
  6. It’s important to take breaks! Maybe start with your doodle, then in a couple hours or days, go back and start to fill in your doodle with color. Watercolor loves layers so it’s a perfect craft to spread out over time. Just don’t push so hard it becomes too painful or tedious.
  7. Have fun! A lot of MECFS people are very driven people. Try to keep in mind, you aren’t trying to make it a museum, you are relaxing your mind, body and soul. You are escaping chronic illness for a little bit, which helps relax and sooth your brain. There have been numerous studies showing the positive effects of art on the brain. I can tell you from personal experience it helps with pain management.
  8. And lastly, there are quite a few ‘spoonies’ on Instagram sharing their art. I would strongly encourage you to join in on a social media art community! All skill levels are welcome, trust me I’ve tested those waters, well actually I test them with nearly every post. 😊 It’s fun to join in and see what other people are working on and share a common interest with people from all over the world.

That’s about it for today folks. I thought I’d share what’s helped me over the past few years and explain to you all just how economical and low maintenance it is. I like to think that someday my grandchildren will be able to look at my doodle books and have a good giggle too.

And with that, a few more of my doodles below as I follow along with the July prompts on World Watercolor Group. Some of them are reposts as my energy levels have been lesser this week. If you have any tips or thoughts please share them in the comments! Hoping wherever you are in the world, your day has unexpected happiness. 🌼


24 thoughts on “Let’s Talk about Creating Watercolors… in Bed

    1. Thank you for stopping in. 😊 Poetry is a wonderful outlet too. So many incredibly talented artists amongst us here in the community. Something I would have otherwise never known. Hoping you give your paints a try. I once read we love coloring as adults because it takes us back to the carefree feelings of our youth, and I think painting might be something similar. Hoping today is kind to you. 🌸

      Liked by 1 person

  1. We are our own worst critics! Mishka, I like to see the artist in her work. I see you and love your work! I’m thinking I should try this. I love the book idea, a lot! I’ve been learning Zentangles. I joined a google plus group and it was so fun! All different skill levels. Everyone was so kind! But that platform was shut down. I need to go back and read where you found your group. I need to find a new Zentangles, or doodle, group! This post was great! You are way to hard on yourself! I so love your work! 😊💜

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I stumbled upon world watercolor group on Instagram while looking for monthly challenges. He does welcome doodles too! It doesn’t have to be watercolor. The monthly prompts provide direction and also it’s fun to see what other people come up with for the same prompt.

      Many other chronic illness artists use their art to express their pain and anguish, which is so healthy!! But I keep mine fun and happy because it’s my escape away from the illness to my root self. That pre illness person was pretty much always a happy camper. And I like to bring other people smiles. Sorry deep stuff. And thank you for the compliment.🌸 Hoping you find a new place to share your creations!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. So interesting. Yes, there is a therapeutic aspect to art, I sooo agree. I think it’s great! I looked at the Instagram one that you mentioned. Wow! I didn’t realize how much I missed my old tangle group. Never know, may stop by the group again!😊💜

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, Mishka, I’m so impressed by your very first attempt at watercolor – it’s beautiful! My first attempt didn’t look anywhere near that good. Thanks for sharing these great tips. I’m still working on it, but I can’t seem to get in the habit of painting consistently yet. I love all the artwork you shared here. You truly are extremely talented!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your art is beautiful! I have zero “drawing” skills hubz and i dida few yiu tube paint nights and they turned out nice but we used templates lol. I love my prime! I still can drive but its 200% less then i use to…aside from crocheting in “bed” i also digital scarp book and digital design on my lap top…which is so old and i need a new one. Great post! Great of you to share thus all

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You’ve made such great points, especially about where price factors in to things and can limit what we’re able to do (I also find there’s a big guilt element, like I shouldn’t be buying things that I can enjoy because I don’t ‘need’ them), and with making adjustments (like with the easel being uncomfortable) to suit your needs and situation. This is a great post to provide a little encouragement and inspiration as I think a creative outlet can be such an important part of mental wellbeing and self-care to add some joy to life, especially a chronic illness life – thank you for sharing! xx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been reluctant to jump into using watercolours–although I bought myself some inexpensive watercolour paints ages ago–but I recently started using watercolour pencils.
    Along with the paints, I’ve also purchased some watercolour instruction books but I’ve barely flipped through them.
    Your list is encouraging 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Do you like the pencils? I have some but need to watch a tutorial because I haven’t figured out how to properly use them. 🙃 YouTube videos are quick and easy but also lead to feeling like…why can’t I get my painting to look like that 🤔😁 It’s all for fun though. Hoping you’re enjoying it!! 👩‍🎨🎨

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I do like the pencils because (I feel) they can be controlled more easily than watercolour paints. What I’m noticing is that the same painting techniques used with the paints can be used with the pencils e.g. wet on wet. You also don’t have to apply a lot of pencil colour to get nice coverage.
        I am enjoying it but probably could make time to do more 🙂
        I hope you’re doing well too 🌼

        Liked by 2 people

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