Meet Alyssa! Alyssa is a self-taught watercolorist who creates beautiful pieces that capture the whimsy and magic of the world Learn more about her passion for painting the moon, the benefits of failures, and her advice to new artists.
1) When did you first get into art?
I wanted to be an artist for as long as I can possibly remember. I would draw constantly as a child, usually recreating my favorite cartoons or inventing my own characters in the same style. I can’t say specifically what catalyzed the interest in art, which leads me to believe I was simply born with the desire to create.
2) Do you feel those early rejections and missteps helped you as an artist? How so?
Rejection from the art major at my university was both the best and worst thing that could have happened for me as an artist. At the time it was devastating. I had spent my entire life being told how talented I was, and all of that potential went away with one email. I cried until I couldn’t breathe and felt more worthless than I ever had before.
But now I see that it just wasn’t the correct path for me. I had a lot of growing to do beyond technical skill. I was far too competitive and insecure about my art, and I don’t think the stress of keeping a scholarship and receiving grades would have lessened that – if anything it would have made it worse. Mandatory assignments would have been an issue in themselves because as soon as I’m obligated to create something I feel limited. The self-taught route alongside finding a community on Instagram gave me the time and space to find my own identity as an artist, foster confidence in my work, and learn to genuinely admire other artists without feeling threatened.
3) What has making art everyday brought to your life?
Purpose, joy, courage, and a reason to get out of bed. Creating daily makes me more present and appreciative of the world around me. I see everything with a completely different perspective – people, literature, nature, music, all of it – and I feel more connected as a result. I finally feel like I’m headed in the right direction after spending so many years being off-center. I’m eager to learn as much as I can and contribute something positive. All of this makes me a happier, healthier, kinder person than I was before and I couldn’t be more grateful.
4) Watercolor is your favorite medium, what do you love about it so much?
Watercolor is a fascinating game of control. Sometimes you can direct it and blend exactly as you want, and sometimes you are at the mercy of what the paint and water decide to do together. I’m still so in awe of watching colors bleed into one another. I also love how different a piece can look just by varying transparency and layering. It’s also a rather forgiving medium and most mistakes can be lifted with some extra water and a paper towel!
5) The moon seems to be a big inspiration to you, what is it about it you love to paint?
The moon is always a challenge for me, no matter how many times I paint it. I have yet to master the texture and the craters, and I love adjusting my technique every time I try and seeing what I can do differently. In general the moon is a symbol of change and growth – something I’m always trying to cultivate as an artist. At times I’m fearful that my latest creative venture won’t be popular with my followers and that I should just keep doing the same thing because I know it’s been successful. Looking at the moon – constantly changing and unaware/uncaring of what others think – grounds me. I paint the moon out reverence for her beauty and to remind myself that change is something to be proud of.
6) Do you think living in the desert changed your style? How?
I certainly wouldn’t paint cacti as often if I lived anywhere else! I also think it influenced the kinds of colors I like – specifically earth tones. I’m lucky to live in a place where I can explore outdoors year-round (no snow days for us) and I can use so many natural forms for inspiration.
7) Do you have any advice to the blossoming artist?
Practice. Practice as often as you can, even if it’s only a few minutes a day. Take breaks that don’t involve anything artistic. Try lots of new styles and mediums – it’s the only way to discover all that you’re capable of! Find a community, because the cycle of encouraging others and feeling encouraged will shut up those ugly thoughts. Read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.
8) Which Bee Paper product is your favorite? Why?
Watercolor paper (I know, shocking)! It has such a unique texture compared to others I’ve used. I get a lot of cool granulation and blends!