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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.