How learning water colour painting made me more professional

How learning water colour painting made me more professional

When my friend started teaching a class in how to paint with water colours, I joined in order to support her.

Feel free to congratulate me for what I learned upon completion of the course. Don’t think for a second that I can paint with water colours. Or any medium for that matter. I started as a hopeless artist and made only marginally gains during the course.

But what I DID learn was that there is a different way of seeing the world. Different from the way I had always seen the world. Prior to the course, I had never truly realised how many variations of green there are when looking at a tree. Previously, I saw leaves on trees as being a fairly uniform green colour – ‘leaves are green, no surprises there’. Of course I knew that the top and under-side of leaves are slightly different colours, but I saw for like I had never seen before that sunlight strikes leaves differently in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening, as well as the angles of the sun at different times meaning that the uniform colour of leaves can look vastly different in full sunlight and in shade; then if there is a breeze, the leaves turn and the light dances off them in a shock of subtlety!

I couldn’t convert any of this insight in to interesting art, but I had seen the world in a way that I had never seen it before. I was looking at the world through the eyes of an artist.

How did this make me more professional?

By opening myself to the fact that different people see the world differently, by virtue of their skills, motivations and interests. I started to think about seeing the world through the eyes of a professional.

This seemingly simple revelation made me realise that I could improve my professionalism in my work-role by trying to gain insight/understand how a professional / someone who is known for their professionalism views the world when they are performing their work-role.

I remember at the time I took the painting class, I had all the skills and contextual knowledge I needed to do the job I had at the time, and was liked and respected by my bosses, colleagues and clients; and I did my job.

However, I didn’t necessarily have a feel for my role and what I really needed to do. I didn’t have a structured approach to deploying my skills; and I didn’t always understand what it meant to see my job through to completion – I left way too many loose-ends and messiness, such as records not being completed, holding on to invoices till the last minute rather than processing them in good time.

By all means take up water colour painting. In fact I highly recommend it!

More importantly, understand that in order to develop your professionalism, you need to be open to challenging the way you presently see the world. As you consider your professionalism, don’t only look at what a professional does; seek deeper insight as to how they view the world when they are performing their work-role and how that guides their actions.


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