June 1, 2021

Enchanted Creators: Regan Ralston of Water of Whimsy, by Molly Ellson


Welcome to the third installment of our Enchanted Creators series! 

Presenting Regan Ralston, the amazingly talented watercolor artist, who’s transformed her art into beautiful products to sell on her Etsy site, Water of Whimsy. 

 

Dreamy, mystical and, of course, whimsical, Regan’s stunning watercolors will swirl you away into a fairy tale fantasy, filled with witchcraft, goddesses and nature. Her product range includes prints and stickers, as well as skillfully crafted jewelry. Looking for the perfect gift? Maybe a little something to revamp your room? There really is something for everyone in her Etsy store. 


Water of Whimsy feels like a hot mug of cocoa on a freezing Winter’s day: comforting and soul-warming, with just a dash of magic. And I’ve been lucky enough to have a truly enchanted conversation with Regan to reveal how she concocted a successful business from a recipe of love, skill and determination.

 



I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I enjoyed conducting it, Reader, and don’t forget to share the love at Water of Whimsy’s Instagram page: @waterofwhimsy!

 

Your art is stunning! When did you begin painting and what originally inspired you to start?

 

Thank you very much, for the compliment and for taking the time to interview me for Enchanted Conversation; I was so tickled when you reached out about featuring me as a creator! I have been creating art for as long as I can remember. My first sketch book is still in a memory box. It was a small journal with illustrated kittens on the cover, full of scribbles and lavender stickers. I believe that I was about four years old when I used that sketchbook, and I have filled thousands of pages since.


When thinking about painting, I consider my Nana my first true teacher. She was a member of the watercolor society in our hometown, and I was fascinated by her talent and the medium. My Nana, Nancy Platt, taught me to paint with patience and ingenuity. Her full-time profession was as an elementary school teacher, and it was not uncommon growing up for a previous student of hers to marvel at my luck in being her granddaughter. Not only did my Nana teach me to paint, and encouraged the hobby, but her home represented the magically liminal realm of “Grandma’s House.” When we visited her home, the world always seemed full of whimsy; there was a pansy-filled garden, miniature china tea sets, fickle cats, a slightly off-key piano with a liftable lid, and endless activities imagined for summer day fun or rainy afternoon romps. 

 

Most of the art that I create today harkens back in one way or another to the memories and inspiration that began at Nana’s house. If you are wondering by the way, she’s doing very well and is “over the moon” about my life as an artist. She’s always requesting more photos of my work, and of course more photos of my two puppies Honey and Zuzu. 




Is there any particular reason that you chose watercolors?


As I mentioned, my Nana taught me watercolor at a young age because that was the medium that she was most familiar with. When I went to university, I took many art classes and worked in graphite, ink, and acrylic. However, I ultimately returned to watercolors because they’re what feel most natural to me and my artistic interests. 

 

I love the way watercolor breathes and moves. I find that there’s something very homespun about watercolor illustrations, which feel as if they’ve only finished air drying over some old-fashioned furnace. When I paint, I work fast and at a small scale, and watercolor can put up with my somewhat impatient flights of fancy. 



 

Tell us about yourself, what’s the story behind Regan Ralston and Water of Whimsy?


Well, I always dreamt of being an artist, but that didn’t seem feasible for most of my life. At university, I began selling my watercolor illustrations as a hobby. I liked to think of myself as “the village artist.” Friends and family began to reach out with requests, and this provided a good outlet for my creative energy. 


My artwork continued this way, as a freelance hobby, while I pursued a career in marketing and then education. When the pandemic hit, I found myself without a job for the summer. While unemployed and in quarantine, I created the Instagram account @waterofwhimsy. At first, I hoped that the account would allow me to share more of my artwork and connect with a few customers. I never imagined the miracle that would come from my somewhat spur of the moment decision.

 

Through some twist of fate, my artwork has struck a vein with many whimsical souls! As of this January, I’ve committed myself fully to Water of Whimsy and my art. This is the beginning of a gift that I never dared ask for, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity.




There’s a fantastic variety of products on your site, do you have a favorite—either to create, or as a final piece? Why is it your favorite?

 

I find it hard to pin myself down creatively, so most of the pieces I create come from a moment of spontaneity: “I’d love to have this illustration as a candle!” The products that I most enjoy creating are those of the paper variety, as they seem naturally attuned to the form of my work. Prints, cards, bookmarks, and stationary are all satisfying to make. However, my favorite products to make right now are stickers. It’s so satisfying to see an illustration go from canvas to sticker. I love the idea of someone sending letters, or filling their journal, with my artwork. 


Can you describe for us the journey from paper to product - what's your process?

 

Most of my artwork is created as a kind of digital collage, featuring my watercolor illustrations. To begin, I sketch out my piece in graphite and then fill with watercolor. After painting, I outline the piece in ink. Transferring from canvas to a digital platform can be tricky, so I’m actively working to streamline this transition. Normally, I photograph the illustration and then edit the photo in Photoshop to remove the background and adjust as necessary. With the watercolor illustration digitized, I’m able to maneuver the piece around and add texts, accents, or borders as I please. 

 

I’m too in love with the traditional tools of watercolor to surrender them completely to a digital brush, so the somewhat complex process is worth it for my aesthetic interest. 

 

Where do you draw inspiration from for new pieces? Do you have a particular place where you like to paint?


I draw inspiration from books that I’m reading, movies that I’m watching, and from personal memory or experience. For the past few years I’ve begun following the pagan Wheel of the Year, so a lot of my work has been inspired by a reverence for the seasons and their festivals.



Witchcraft features frequently on your site, can you give us more of an insight into the art?

 

Modern Witchcraft may refer to a diverse range of practices, beliefs, and philosophies. I have noticed that there are certain shared festivals, deities, and everyday insights that seem ubiquitous among the modern pagan and witch community. In these shared realms, I try to create art that celebrates the beauty of the craft. 

 

I’m assuming that you’re a fan of the fantastical—be it mythology, folklore or fairy tale. Tell us your favorite tale/character/author and why?

 

I’ve always been enamored with Arthurian legend, and I still consume every modern retelling or variant tale related to the mythos. Right now, I’m bingeing “Cursed” on Netflix. In part, I love the legend for its place in the cannon of history. Even more compelling to me are the artworks that were created in homage to the legendary court. In particular, I think of Alfred Tennyson’s poem “The Lady of Shalott” and the John William Waterhouse portrait of the same name.


In the realm of Arthurian legend, I feel most drawn to the character of Morgan le Fay. Even as a child, upon hearing her name I felt a shiver of power run up my spine. There’s something so enticing about this enchantress figure, and she’s certainly in my mind when creating whimsical pieces highlighting magic of the everyday.  


Is there anything else you’d like to add?

 

Just to thank you again for taking the time to interview me, and for allowing me to share my thoughts with you and the Enchanted Conversation community.


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Molly Ellson is EC’s assistant editor. She also does a lot of social media promotion and writes some of our posts, like this one. EC needs your help to keep chugging along, so if you enjoy this post and others like it, please consider contributing through PayPal at ecsub2016@gmail.com or becoming a Patreon patron. We have a Summer Solstice Social for our financial supporters coming soon.


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All images were created or supplied by Regan Ralston. Again, her shop is Water of Whimsy.


1 comment:

Sofie said...

Great interview with a fantastic artist!

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