Creativity Is A Blessing

Ideas follow me around like little children tugging on my pant leg, begging attention. I’ve been brushing them aside, too unwell to give any them any energy, but with summer’s arrival and pending visits at Grandma’s camp, I push myself to get out the paints.

Untrained myself, I watch videos to gain knowledge and inspiration. I look for ideas the children will want to do,
and try them out to make sure they’ll work. The stack of pancakes, I discover, is easy and definitely doable with a 6 and 7-year-old.

The girls are eager to paint with Grandma, and naturally, full of their own creative ideas.

We play with the paints, and working with these uninhibited minds helps expands my own possibilities.

Each girl leaves at the end of the week with a framed masterpiece as a memento of our time together.

Sloane is a week shy of seven, and when I ask her what she would like me to paint for her birthday, she is very specific: two unicorns with the colours blue and purple.

“How on Earth do I paint unicorns?” I mention to Ric.

In his usual smart ass way, he responds: “You draw a horse with a horn on its head.”

Argh! I’ve never drawn horses before is what I meant. So I research again. This is the first attempt.

It feels wonderful to be sketching and painting again. I have one more birthday gift to attend to and then I’ve completed my year and I’ll start listening to those ideas tugging at my pant leg.

Birthday Art

I started the tradition – a challenge really – to create a painting for each of my family members’ birthdays. The challenge continues, as the birthdays keep coming.

What to paint for my daughter-in-law, who has already claimed many of my art pieces? I wanted something personal and meaningful, so I decided to tackle an image from her wedding celebration.

For my son-in-law, who is house proud, I decided the best gift I could give him is a painting of their home (featured).

Next up, our soon to be three-year-old. I’m thinking of maybe a series of paintings of her favourite toys? Any other ideas? Has to be pink, because, quote: “Pink is my life.”

Arting People

Faces and bodies intimidate me, when it comes to art. So I decided to start simply, with this computerized sketch (featured) made from an old photograph of one of my girls.

I have found with my sketching that adhering to the original is not always necessary, as long as I get the general idea. This is art, after all.

I choose the colours that I want to introduce to the image – pink, blue, and burnt sienna. Wetting the paper, I dab in the colour, then decide to add some green.

I take pictures along the way, so that I can objectively consider the painting and what else it needs. At this point, I usually redo some of the sketch lines, but I don’t feel inclined to do that here. Instead, I think about highlighting areas of the piece by intensifying the colour. I paint the trees in the upper right hand corner, and then opt to do her hat.

Still not satisfied, I decide to sleep on it. In the morning, I realize that it is the snowball that is bothering me. I decide to introduce yellow, emphasizing her hair and the ball.

Now the painting has taken on a metaphorical aspect, telling a story.

To me, it is the light the emanates from this special child.

Self-Portrait and Mountains

Many moons ago, I won an award for my artistic talents and was immediately counselled to drop the art program. That same year, I wrote my first novel, and after it was graded, I burnt it. I wasn’t meant to be creative, I decided, and obediently signed up for advanced math and other academic subjects.

For decades following, I admired the creativity of others and bemoaned the fact that I didn’t have a creative bone in my body. Now that I have put that nonsense behind me, and reconnected with that younger self, I am revelling in exploration.

And, still rolling in the mire of self-doubt.

I am very conscientious of the fact that I have not been a student of art – that I wouldn’t recognize a Gaugin from a Renoir without some prodding. I don’t know the technical terms and when I read artists’ blogs, I am often lost. Does this make me an imposter? I wonder.

Still, I plod along – my work station a permanent corner of our abode (we dine on our laps) – each day daring myself to try something new. Thus the self-portrait.

Mostly, I am focusing on sketching, and liking where the extensive pencil work is taking me. This mountain scene is inspired by the large rock formations of Joshua Tree National Park. Less focused on realism, I find I am more liberal with the watercolours.

Each new venture is a learning.

Thank you for coming along with me on this journey. Comments or suggestions are greatly appreciated.


A Fresh Approach

It started with a tree. Something about the texture of the bark appealed to me, so I took a picture.

Then I examined the image on my computer, and pondered what the image was saying to me. Did it need altering? Was it worth keeping?

Every time I looked at it, I was drawn to a small, cartoonish face just off center. I decided to sketch that face, and work outwards from there.

The image moved left and right of the face, but I felt compelled to set the two halves of the photo on top of one another, so the sketch no longer resembled the original.

Then, using a fine brush, I traced all of my pencil marks with dark paint. Noting that the bark was not one colour, I then added a second shade. When all of that dried, I wet the paper and blotted in two more colours, let the water work its will.

I repeated the steps again for more vibrancy.

The Storyteller, by V.J. Knutson

What emerged was this old tree, with the profile of an ancient, and so I’ve titled the piece “Storyteller”.

This is a new approach to art for me, but I am so excited about the process that I’m working on a similar one based on a rock formation.

What do you see in the old tree trunk?

Coastal Dreams: Watercolour

Oceans hold particular allure for those of us who live mid-country and have certainly been the subject of many of my recent paintings.

The beach scene featured, I painted for our middle daughter, who loves all things coastal. I tried to feature colours that would match with her current art pieces.

Painting for another is tricky. Tastes differ. Perfection rears its ugly head. Not wanting to disappoint her, I painted several beach scenes and let her select the one she preferred.

I did the same for my oldest daughter, who wanted a west coast scene. She selected both pieces I offered. The one above is the first of two.

Challenging myself to paint for others has encouraged me to take greater risks. I pay more attention to details. I am learning to be patient and take my time. Hopefully, I am progressing with each new project.

When I get discouraged, I remind myself that it has been less than a year since I first picked up a paintbrush. Still looking forward to what some actual training will do to advance my craft.

In the meantime, I keep experimenting.

Art Inspires Hope

spire artThere is a painter inside of me busting to get out.  She talks to me, while I am working – makes suggestions, helps me pick the right brush, encourages different strokes.

I like it when she is present.  Listening to her is an act of letting go.  It is a form of trusting.  A growing confidence.

I feel as if I am aligned to a creative force.

The painting classes I signed up for didn’t go.  Not enough participants.  No matter.  Now that I’ve started on this journey, I’m not willing to give up.

So I try harder.

Heading North artMy paints are out most days now.  On the days when the muse is present, I attempt ambitious pieces – works that require hours of concentration, and patience.

When she is absent, I practice techniques inspired by Instagram or YouTube videos.

Clouds still elude me, but my trees are improving.

I am pleased with how my use of colours has progressed.

I love that painting, like writing is always evolving.  So hopeful.

 

What inspires hope in your life?

mountain scene art

 

 

Cee’s Flower of the Day: Sunflower

Cee has invited me to join in even though I don’t know the name of many flowers.  I do love to photograph them though, and this sunflower really spoke to me on my walk a couple of days ago.

Sadly, as I passed it by this evening, the petals are all gone and the stalk is bending.  Good thing I memorialized it when I did, so I had something to paint:

IMG_2459

Cee’s Flower of the Day – October 5, 2018.  Hers is a beautiful Dahlia.

 

Creativity- Releasing Perfectionism

Having given myself permission to paint with bolder colours and abandon the expectation of replicating the perfection of photographs, I am venturing into more ambitious projects.

Mistakes, I am learning, can be tossed or mended.  The featured image was meant to be a sunset over water, but my mother called just as I was putting paint to paper and the distraction resulted in a less than satisfactory image.  Discouraged I set the work aside, and then decided to turn the water aspect into long grass.

Mountains my art“Would you be interested in a painting from your mother for your birthday?” I asked my son – too polite to say no.

“I’d love a mountain scene,” he offered.  For four years he lived in Calgary, and still hears the call of the slopes.  I googled a photo of the mountains as viewed from his former home and created this piece.  He says he loves it, but I am dissatisfied with the sky – an area I hope to explore more when I take lessons in October.

IMG_2405I have many images sketched and awaiting my attention, and while I try to paint as often as I can, several end up in the trash pile.  That’s okay; I am learning, I keep reminding myself.  This is just the beginning.

Recently, we took a road trip to Ottawa, following back lanes through rural Ontario.  Stopped at a quaint diner, I took a picture of the outside view.  To date, this is my favourite piece and I’ve framed it with grey to accent the window effect.

Now my middle daughter has requested a water scene for her birthday, so my wheels are turning in a different direction.  Likely I’ll do a few practice runs before I attempt the final product.  She is a perfectionist, so pleasing her will be quite a feat.  Actually, I’m okay with my art being relegated to hidden away places.  At least she’ll have something personal from me.

 

Photo A Week: Fruits of Labour

Finding an outlet to express myself creatively (beyond writing) has been my biggest accomplishment this year.  Picking up a camera and a paint brush both happened simultaneously, as our adventures across country begged recording.

bud (art)

Converting image
to art, via watercolours, has become my passion, although to date, I’ve only had a few lessons, and each attempt reminds me of how much I have yet to learn.

Typical of me, I dive right in without knowledge of the basics – never having taken art beyond elementary school.  It occurs to me, each time I approach a painting, that a rudimentary foundation in the craft would help.

Still, I persevere, and I will be starting lessons in the fall.

“You should take some photography lessons, too,” my husband suggests kindly, and perhaps I will, down the road.  For now, I am satisfied with the thrill that each image brings when I open it on the computer for review.

killdeer artThis killdeer, guarding the nest, observed me warily, deciding I was not a threat, so I was able to get a good close-up.  Killdeer remind me of childhood summers, playing in the fields behind our house, and chasing the birds as they feigned a broken wing to lure us away from the nests.

I used traditional water colours with pencils to complete this piece.

The greatest  sense of accomplishment occurred when we had some of my art framed for display in our new home.  It is so satisfying to be able to enjoy the fruits of my labour each day.

 

Photo of art

(Nancy Merrill’s A Photo A Week Challenge is Fruits of Your Labour.  V.J.’s weekly challenge is foundation.)