Watercolors is a 2008 gay themed coming of age movie. It starts off with Danny in an art exhibition where he is selling paintings. His boyfriend is asking him why he is so sad as though it is a funeral despite them agreeing on selling the paintings. The film takes as back to Danny's teenage years to explain his situation.
Danny liked painting since childhood. In school he attended painting class. He lives with his mother Miriam who is a therapist at an alcoholics anonymous group. While in the AA group he meets Stephen who is a single father. His son Carter has problems with discipline in school. He asks Miriam to look after Carter while he is off to a business trip. He cannot leave Carter alone because he is on suspension after misbehavior in school. Carter is in the school's swimming team.
Danny comes back home from school and finds Carter reading one of his gay magazines. He gets it from him. Carter asks Danny to take a walk with him. He already knows Danny is gay. Later Danny goes to get Carter from the swimming pool. Carter forces him in and shows him how to float. They go back home where Danny tries to tutor Carter English. Carter kisses Danny on the cheek before going to sleep. At night Danny cannot sleep and pulls Carter's sheets off and begins to do a sketch of him without clothes as he sleeps. The two grow fond of each other over the days. Carter teaches Danny to smoke weed. The two eventually have sex.
Sunday comes and Carter is now ready to go back home. He tells Danny that they cannot be seen together in school as it will make him get teased even more especially by Henry a swimming teammate. Back at school Carter is struggling to maintain a C average grade to keep him in the swimming team. Danny had promised to write his essay to give him better grades. Carter's father Stephen is not supportive of his son's swimming. He fears Carter's seizures might return and ruin his swimming and so he insists on more concentration in academics. This brings Carter and his dad at loggerheads all the time.
One day while sketching Carter, Danny reveals to him that he might be falling in love. Carter insists that he should stop taking it too seriously. The two begin to spend more time together after school and the rest of the school notices. One day Carter finds his locker vandalized by homophobic graffiti. Carter gets upset and misses the class. Danny notices and knows there is trouble. As he leaves for home Henry and two other boys accost him and beat him up. Carter is very upset to see Danny all swollen on the face when he visits him. Danny rejects his mother's attempts to file a police report. He instead misses class to talk with the mother. He reveals to her that he got beaten because he is gay and that him and Carter were in a relationship which led to sex. The mother reacts calmly to the news.
Carter is upset the coach placed Henry in the 200 meters freestyle and gave him the 100 meters. The 200 meters is his best but the coach insists that Henry has better endurance. Carter confronts Henry to leave Danny alone but all he does is tease him even more. Carter has been taking drugs to get sleep and the coach warns him about it even though he lies.
Stephen, Miriam and Danny attend the swimming competition at Los Angeles Swimming Stadium. Carter is nervous and he does a false start but is allowed back in the race with a warning. He comes second overall in the race which upsets him including the coach. Danny tries to approach him one day at a basketball court and he chases him off violently. Things get worse when the teacher discovers Danny did Carter's essay. This gets Carter a fail and he is consequently thrown out of the swimming team. Carter blames Danny for all these miseries and wants nothing to do with him.
Carter suffers a seizure just after picking his lunch in the school cafeteria. The paramedics take him to Sagmore General Hospital. Danny visits him. He reveals to Danny that his toxicology report showed he was abusing drugs and so he will never be allowed to compete in swimming anywhere. He is also being sent by social services to juvenile rehabilitation. Danny tries to comfort him but he chases him off again. Danny lets him know that he hurt him more than Henry ever did and leaves.
At school an announcement over the public address system breaks the news that Carter was found dead early that morning. Danny cannot believe it and he faints in class. Back at home he cannot get sleep due to nightmares. Miriam reminds him he also had them when his dad died.
Now as an adult this memory of Carter still haunts Danny. His boyfriend insists Danny does not pay any attention to him. They have gone to therapy where Danny was advised to get rid of Carter's paintings so that he can begin healing. During the exhibition to sell them off Danny is still sad.
The quote of this movie is "love is so short, forgetting is so long" by Pablo Neruda.