Watercolor Floral Workshop with Holly Anna Calligraphy

Saturday, October 14th, I attended a Watercolor Floral Workshop with Holly Anna Calligraphy taught by Kylee Blackburn. A painting of Kylee’s hangs on my living room wall.

Sitting in the PICU in the spring of 2016, I began to feel the ache to create. At home my hobbies were big: upholstery, painting walls, painting signs and sewing curtains, pillows and bunting. What could I do in the restraints of that room? During one walk I encountered Arch Supplies. The saleswoman directed me to a travel set of watercolors.


I knew watercolor from Mr. Dennis’ high school art class, but nothing more.

I started sketching.


The details were not much to look at, so I decided to try simplified flower shapes.

I purchased the set and went on my way. The price of thank you cards inspired me to give away the little paintings I created.

The book, 20 Ways to Draw a Tulip, helped immensely. I drew with pencil and painting over, then outlined with ink in some cases.

Like macramé, once Peter was discharged from the hospital, there was little to pull me back to the activity.

Then I encountered the Four Friends Market, Holly Anna Calligraphy and Kylee Blackburn’s work.

And, oh, what Kylee can do…


I signed up. Because of other expenses, I contemplated canceling. I recalled the calligraphy workshop and the space, both the physical space filled with natural light and bougainvillea and the mental space of time away from everything. Like a walk away from the hospital. I knew I needed it.

When I walked down the alley, I breathed in the beauty. Opening the door, I knew my way. I felt outgoing and at ease. Thumbing through the book I read about color theory and delighted in the blue watercolor words used for headers in each section.

Kylee explained her method and her rules. The water makes the watercolor work. My mind created Venn diagrams of her technique and Ron Stocke’s from M. Graham, who I watched demonstrate watercolor techniques at Arch Supplies. He is trying to change the field, to show you can intentionally use the paint from the tube with incredible results. His paintings are a testament to that.

But what do I want to paint? I want paintings that are attainable to me. I want paintings that help me breathe a little better when I paint them. Those are the paintings by Kylee.

I could not be more pleased with what I took away from this workshop. I learned how to form flowers, how to work with the brush, which brush to use, how to create definition in the painting, and how to paint flowers. Kylee walked from table to table so we could see her make the strokes made up close. I asked her to paint roses again. Our goal was to paint a floral wreath.



I liked two of my practice flowers and used them for the wreath. I wish I had not been too afraid to start fresh. I thought I could not reproduce them.


With any new art, a big factor in success is to not be afraid, to put faith in the words of a good instructor who tells you to go for it, dip in the water and push hard on the brush. There is still practice and experimentation to be done.

Sometimes with these workshops, all I can think is, “my goodness that’s a lot of money for two hours.” Then I remind myself…

it is double in San Francisco.

It is not just that. The ease of having the recommended materials provided saves a lot of trial and error. Art supply stores overwhelm me with their options. Watching is key to learning, as is practicing. Small, personal workshops provide both opportunities. Youtube videos are helpful, but when I have a question regarding what I am doing right or wrong, they fall short.

Then there is the escape from life and responsibilities to soak up something new.

Returning to life, now when I paint with me daughter, I have a better idea of what I am doing, which inspires her to always keep learning.

Just for fun, here is my masterpiece from last year:

Sketch of Peter which created much laughter.

I receive no compensation for this review. 

1 Comment

  1. reocochran says:

    Your wreath of flowers was beautiful and you are a fast learner! 💮 Smiles, Robin 🌸

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