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Watercolor painting has a reputation for being one of the most difficult techniques to master. Meet Bethany Eden, an artist and illustrator based in San Francisco whose gentle and luminous illustrations seem so effortless they trick you into thinking it’s something you might want to try yourself. Her work spans illustration, design, fine art, and now includes using Breather spaces to teach workshops for those brave enough to sign up. Wine being a key ingredient, her light-hearted and fun workshops offer you a chance to relax, make new friends, and learn a new skill.

When you’re not teaching the workshops, what kind of work are you making?

I’m a watercolor artist so I do many different things, like painting, invitations, design work, custom portraits and commissions. It’s only recently I’ve been teaching people basic watercolor techniques, giving them a full set of supplies so they can go home and start painting on their own.

What kind of schedule do you keep as a free-lancer, and how does Breather fit into that picture?

I heard about Breather, actually, from an e-mail that asked if I had a space to rent, which I didn’t, but then I realized that the spaces would be perfect for hosting a workshop.

In my day-to-day life I wake up at 7 or 8 and try to start a normal eight-hour day. I usually spend a few hours in the morning doing admin work, answering e-mails, printing and shipping and then spend the rest of the day making more creative work.

I started doing workshops because a lot of people I met online through social media asked about different techniques, so I saw a need for people who have an interest in watercolor painting and who want to learn some basic skills.

Have the workshops made an impact on or changed the other ways you work?

Hosting the workshops has helped me to see that many people want to explore their own creativity, whether they view themselves as an artist or not. I find that aspect inspiring, so I’ve started searching for even more ways to connect people through workshops and other events outside of my own personal painting time.

What do you like most about hosting the workshops?

I enjoy getting to interact face to face with people who want to grow as artists. It’s great to see them fall in love with watercolor painting, some for the first time. I also love hunting down watercolor supplies for the attendees to take home and use for years to come.

Are there any other entrepreneurial illustrators you admire?

Right now I'm really inspired by three visual artists, Joanne Nam, Kelsey Beckett, and Clare Elsaesser. They are fantastic illustrators who find ways to connect with a wider audience through social media by sharing their work, while at the same time maintaining a career as a professional artist through gallery shows.

What qualities do you look for in a studio space?

People’s reactions when they show up to one of my workshops in a Breather space are really positive. They’ve asked me, “Is this your studio? It’s so gorgeous! How did you find this place?” They’ve been really enthusiastic.

The aesthetics of the space matter a lot to me because I’m trying to create a space where people can feel inspired, making them want to create their own art. The look and design of Breather has been very helpful for that. If I rented elsewhere I think I would have a hard time finding a space that isn't too expensive, too small, or one that lets me be flexible. Breather offers some great price points.

In my painting I try to enjoy the quality of the paint that is alive and organic, so I try to create events that help others experience the same thing.


Bethany was shot at 594 Howard Street in San Francisco by Emma Fineman.