May 31, 2012

Sadee's Watercolor World

Today I'm thrilled to introduce Sadee Schilling whose watercolor paintings are filled with stunning beauty and tender story. We actually met each other while she lived here in the states. But it wasn't until after she moved to Germany that we discovered each other's blogs--talk about serendipity!

1. How did you get started in watercolor painting?
As a kid, I would work for hours in those "paint with water" coloring books--the ones with a kind of dried pigment already on the paper that was activated with water. When I got a little older, my favorite thing was wandering the aisles of the neighborhood craft store with my mom (Hobby Lobby, I still love you!). One day I found a set of watercolor pencils in the clearance section and my mom bought them for me. I think one of the first things I ever painted was a little Victorian teacup full of roses--her Mother's Day gift, I'm almost sure of it!

When I studied art, the curriculum was drawing-heavy and I never technically took a watercolor course. I always played around with pan-watercolors, mostly just for fun. My favorite thing was to draw with crayons and oil pastels and then paint with watercolor over the resist. It wasn't until 2008 when I was pregnant with my first daughter that I began to delve into watercolors more "seriously." Up until that point, I was painting mostly with acrylics and making these really elaborate sculptural flowers and birds from canvas.

When we found out that baby was on the way, I knew that this medium was probably too involved to keep up with, especially because of how quickly acrylic paints dry! So I started creating smaller-scale illustrations with watercolor, colored pencil, pens and ink. I loved that I could stop in the middle of my work and come back later to revive the paints with a little water! And it's funny--what was meant to be a "practical" decision turned out to be crucial in truly finding my creative voice. Fluid, unpredictable watercolor literally became the strongest "craving" of my pregnancy--and the perfect medium to communicate my joyful story of parenthood and later, the ups-and-downs of our international adventure. Watching the colors splash and bleed on the paper often feels like the visual outpouring of my soul!

2. What are your favorite tools of the trade?
A plain, sharp lead pencil; white wax crayons; watercolor paper with a rough, raw surface; sedimentary watercolors (the pigments with particles that settle into the depressions of the paper and create a rich, uneven surface); both watercolor pencils and regular colored pencils; fine-liner Indian Ink pens; acrylic ink with a quill pen. Lately I've started using my watercolors in mixed-media collage, so I'm crazy for collecting beautiful papers, especially vintage ones, richly yellowed and stained. I also love to use coffee stain on paper and a craft knife to etch in scratches and other imperfections--this method creates a vintage-paper-feel.

3. What advice would you give a newbie?
Paint as much as you can! Splash the colors, let them run and mix in ways you didn't expect would work. Don't think of anything as too "precious." Don't be afraid to over-work something, and don't be afraid to under-work something and let it sit for a while and return to it later. The greatest treasures of inspiration I have discovered come in the package of something I thought was ruined! Try out lots of different media until you find the mix that makes you feel like your soul is flowing through your fingers!

4. If you were a famous actor/actress, who would you be?
My brother told me last year that the way I wrote on my blog was kind of like a mix of Rachel Ray and Dr. Phil. Ha! But for personality, I have always loved the quirky cuteness of Meg Ryan's characters--especially in Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail.  If I could also mix in a bit of Julia Roberts' brilliance, beauty and class--the quiet but confident way she commands attention--that would be perfect!

5. And a few either/or questions just for fun:
London or New York? London--I could have an international adventure without the exhaustion of learning a new language!
Grapefruit or Raisins? Raisins! I like them in trail mix, with cashews and other nuts, butnever in bread. Grapefruit is too fussy and sour.
Sandals or Rainboots? Rainboots, although to tell the truth, I don't even own a pair. Now that seems silly, since I live in rainy Hamburg, Germany! 

Thank you so much, Sadee!  I hope you'll check out Sadee's blog; her words are as beautiful as her art. You can find gorgeous watercolor prints in her shop, Picturebook Life.


  1. I love the story of how you two met again. It's meant to be!
    I love these paintings. Ironically, I just rediscovered her blog the other day and was so drawn to the Mother and child painting.

    Your work is beautiful Sadee!

    1. Exactly!:) Her work is so inspiring.

    2. Thank you, Joni! The Mother and Child painting is one of my favorites. I painted these when I was pregnant with my first daughter, and I have loved the way all of the parenting situations I painted before actually experiencing them myself have "come true" in the past three years! :)

  2. Replies
    1. I know, her blog always leaves me feeling peaceful. :)

  3. The paintings give a calm feeling.

    I like what Sadee said:
    "The greatest treasures of inspiration I have discovered come in the package of something I thought was ruined!"

    1. They "give a calm feeling"--that's a perfect way to describe them! And I loved that line of hers too; helps us to remember some of those "failures" may turn useful later on.

  4. Oh, my. How gorgeous!! I love. I want her to illustrate a day in my life!


  5. Thank you for this, Catherine! I too love the blessing and serendipity of how we knew each other in real life and then became true friends through our blogs :). You are always such an encouragement to me and I am so thankful for you!

  6. I love Sadee's world!!!

    love and light

  7. Sadee rocks! Such inspiring work. The first thing I ever saw from Sadee's work was the typewriter and I was in awe. i still am! Great interview!


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