I’m sitting here watching paint dry. Literally. Just watching paint dry.
I haven’t painted much over the last year. My creativity and drive to paint comes and goes – mostly it just goes. Lately I’ve been trying to spend more and more time drawing and painting. I tried taking a drawing class, but it was less structured than what I wanted and needed, so I didn’t do much and skipped more classes than I went to. I hated spending the first hour of class drawing the same slideshow of animals over and over and over and over and you get the idea. I have a larger scale painting (16×20) of Hawaii just sitting around waiting to be finished. I just cant get the greens and the Na Pali coast to appear the way I want it to, so again its just been sitting.
Over the last few months I’ve been trying to force my way out of these ruts and stop just watching TV (other things have helped not just wanting to lay around… again more on that later.. so mysterious…). I can’t quite place exactly what happened or why, but I started drawing Mandalas. Oh! now I remember. I bought a coloring book last October in Portland that is more of an adult coloring book. There are more lines and the drawings are more complicated. There are no boobs. It is not that kind of adult coloring book.
I started running out of pages and so headed to the internet to search for more coloring books like it and then found a book on drawing mandalas. I was going to buy the book and then I remembered my job doesn’t pay that much and I live in San Francisco and I have the whole internet at my fingertips. I have the perfect square smooth watercolor paper for creating mandalas. They have helped me get back into drawing and art and also are a major stress reliever. I’ve loved doing them so much that today I decided that I wanted to paint a larger one in acrylics, so that is the paint that I’m waiting for to dry.
When I started this particular mandala, it didn’t look perfect. I almost gave up. I thought to myself – why am I painting this? I paint landscapes and flowers -something tangible that people can see and know what it is. Why am I painting this abstract thing? And why am I not making it perfect and intricate? Why am I just making it simple and letting my lines go wonky and not measuring my circles out perfectly. I almost stopped.
Then I realized what my issue has been with art all along. I’ve never done it just for me. I’ve always done it for the final product. I’ve always wanted to make sure that I created for an audience. That someone else was meant to enjoy my painting so it needed to be perfect.
Why was I doing this? Isn’t the purpose of art really and truly for the artist them self above anyone else? I mean, I know that not every work of art was created solely for the artist – there are commissions and jobs that involve art and all that jazz, but really the work that started it all and that someone goes home and does to relax, isn’t that just for them? If someone else walks along and likes it, then great, but it should ultimately be for you.
I went back to work on my painting after this realization. I’m going to finish it and I’m going to keep it and its going to remind me of where I have been and and to compare later when I’ve done a few more and want to see what strengths I’ve developed.
I feel freer. I feel like my little creative soul has been caged and scared all this time to just do things. Just draw shit and paint shit and do whatever I want to do without thinking about anyone else and how they feel about it. So onward and upward to using all of these blank canvases I have to create things!
Its not every day you have a life altering moment. I’m glad I had one today and that my Friday night is being spent watching paint dry and listening to music (I might stop the music and watch the Netflix series remake of Wet Hot American Summer because its funny and Paul Rudd). When my painting is done, I’ll post a final picture and some progress pictures and you all can look at it and like it or not like it, I don’t care. You’re not paying me for it. Unless you really like it and you want to.
In the meantime, here are the terrible (and awesome) mandalas that I’ve done over the past few months for fun.
I’m sorry this is late.
I’m not sorry that my first post of this new year is about art. Hopefully there will be many more this year focusing on my art.
In my second to last art class, we walked in to see tables set up around a massive still life scene.
I’ve never really painted a still life before. I chose my seat and used a full size easel for the first time. I’m addicted to using one now.
Anyway, after moving things around a bit, I came up with this set up to paint:
For the background, I wanted a nice natural blueish color. What I came up with was a little darker than intended, but I still liked it enough to not take the time to paint over it. I wanted to use a natural lighter tan for the base before putting in the objects.
After the background and base colors were established, I wasn’t sure how I wanted to go about starting the actual objects. We were told the best approach is to slowly add layers so that each object was in the same state of completeness.
Following these instructions, I blocked out the objects in white, off white, light blue, light yellow, and light green.
After blocking out everything, I then added shading using matte medium and black much like the landscape we did previously. I don’t have a picture of this middle step, sorry! After the shading, I started detailing the taller bottle and the lemons and limes.
Sorry the lighting is a little off on this one.
Our last class we were given the opportunity to finish any of our paintings and I chose to work on this still life.
I started by detailing the objects. My instructor and I both agreed that the background was too flat and didn’t fit in with the rest of the painting. I noticed that there was a black smudge on the top left of the painting, so to add some pizzazz and texture, I used a really watered down white, tan, and sometimes black and smudged it down with my finger and more water. I really loved the effect and it transformed the painting.
At home, I made some updates and added the cloth on the table.
I hate those flowers, so I tried to create the background color again. It took a few attempts to recreate it, but I added the slightly later shades to the background. I really dislike the colors I used for the table, so I’m going to make it significantly lighter and give it more of a natural fold look. I might add a bit of yellow too. I also need to go in and add the background texturing over the newly changed background areas.
I had my art class last night. This week we did landscapes. If you’ve checked out my work that I have posted on this blog previously, then you should gather that I love painting landscapes.
This week I learned a new technique to create landscape pieces. We were instructed to use a tonal under painting or grisaille effect to build layers and create a richer looking painting.
First, we chose photos that we wanted to recreate. I borrowed mine from the internet:
We then sketched out the basic shapes onto our canvas. After sketching, I took black paint and mixed it with matte medium (one of my new favorite paint additives) to create a greyish watered down black to begin shading in the darker areas for the first layer.
Here is my underpainting!
My shapes are a bit off as far as the landscape, deal with it.
After that was dry, I put another thin layer of matte medium on top and then used a hair dryer to quickly dry the paint.
The next step was to determine what my basic color blocks should be and apply those colors transparently so the gray underpainting shows through a bit and not to focus on the details of the painting.
I used a very light blueish purple for the sky and brought it down into the farther hills. I then took a darker blueish tealish green and formed the farther hills and brought it down into the closer hills. Finally I used a more natural bright green/yellow to build the foreground and pulled it into the closer hills to blend with the darker green/blue. In words, this makes very little sense. So here:
Finally, you are to go in and start adding the details to the painting and other layers of paint to create the scene keeping in mind the light source in the painting and the mood. My picture felt serene and calm to me, so I wanted to focus on creating that feeling for the audience.
We ran out of time for me to get very far into this final process. Last night, I managed to complete the sky/clouds and part of the tree.
I took some color liberty with the sky to give it a sunset affect and as if the sun was striking the clouds.
Here you go:
More updates to come as I finish the rest of the painting. The last photo looks darker than it actually is. My phone camera isn’t the best.
In the first class we studied color and mixing colors and created a color wheel. I’m a fan of this practice. I usually try to avoid buying colors that I can mix myself. I am used to making my own greens and purples and oranges. It was fun to see what colors you can make with certain hues. I’ve always used Cadmium Yellow Medium. In the class, she suggested we get Cadmium Yellow Light. Aha! The perfect green!
One of the students asked what the point of this exercise is and then tried to use the store bought green on that section of the color wheel. The point of this exercise, sir, is so that you can learn to make colors on your own.
Sometimes I buy a few different shades of blue and yellow. I usually have black, payne’s grey, and some sort of burnt or raw umber.
Now that you have my color choices down, I will share with you our second week’s assignment.
This week, we were to complete modern style paintings containing squares, rectangles, stripes, and/or triangles. We were then supposed to use our color wheels to create a work using a specific color relationship: Monochrome, Analogous, Complimentary, or split complimentary. I could talk about color relationships for a really long time. This article does a great job of discussing the mixing of colors.
My design consists of a solid background and a triangle/pyramid in the center. Originally I had intended to use true orange as my background and create the shapes in the middle using split complimentary colors of blue/green and blueish purple. My background did not turn out the way I wanted it to and was a bit more red (always add WAY more yellow when making true orange!). So I went straight with complimentary which is the blue/green color and then chose to do the shape in various shades of that color.
We then were to use a tape method to create crisp lines with the acrylics by using matte medium under the tape edges to help create a sharp, crisp line. Upon the next update on this work, I’ll add some pictures of the in between stages. I also want to try this out on other works as this isn’t the style I usually work in. I want to try various shades, etc.
Enough with words and my rambling on what I want to work on.
Behold! The makings of my piece:
The colors are a little off in this picture. Hopefully by the end, I’ll get some good natural lighting and get a good angle that shows the colors true.
Yesterday I stumbled upon this nifty photo of a leaf that someone found in a lake.
I loved the little designs and have been looking for different patterns other than my trees for a special project that I’ve been working on.
So I took those little swirls and created some new postcard art with India ink and my quills. Two are of the leaf design and two are based on a necklace pendant that I have.
Never again will I look at a photograph that seems simple to paint an say ‘hey this looks really easy, I guess I’ll give it a go as a quick painting in 30 minutes’.
3 hours later this was born:
Acrylic on a flat board canvas. Reference photo below:
Bulgarian countryside taken while on my jeep safari while on Semester at Sea.
I played with the colors a bit. The printed version I have of the photo is a bit darker. Over, I’ll quite proud. I didn’t think I was going to like it as much as I do.
A while ago my friend told me about Coursera this amazing website where you can take college classes for free online. I’ve signed up for a few but never managed to actually finish one mostly due to poor timing on my part. I started taking this data science class and really wanted to finish it… and then I started working over 60 hours a week and couldn’t manage to fit it in.
But now I can! Well… not that class. I’m too far behind, BUT this art class I signed up for just started and by golly I am determined to finish it! I know, its weird. Taking an art class online. But so far, its been pretty interesting. This past week we learned about fantastic art. – dadaism, individual fantastic artists, and surrealism. We then had to create our own ‘fantastic’ art piece exploring the ‘absurd, bizarre, imaginary, whimsical, and grotesque’ using any, all, or none of the techniques we discussed in the course. After all, this whole period was about stretching the bounds and just doing your thing.
Anyway, from here on out, I’ll post a bit about what the theme of the week was, my artist statement, and then the two pictures of the work that I submitted.
It took me a while to figure out what kind of feel and technique I wanted to use for this work. I was unsure of the approach I wanted to use and if I wanted to fit myself into one of the movements that we studied. After some thought, I chose to go as a more individual approach using my artistic style paired with my inner dream world and allowing the public to glimpse my idea of my subconscious.
After careful thought, I decided to go with mixed media for my piece, ‘Night’s Journey’ including magazine cut outs and india ink. I first began the piece using watered down ink and a brush to get the wash effect in the background while trying to make it appear like storm clouds. I knew I wanted to go with a nightmare theme and was lucky enough to find photos of costumes worn around the world of nightmaresque creatures in an issue of National Geographic. I paired these with a few photos from Glamour magazine – the child in the clown costume and the Barbie dolls. I added in the lips and the eye for a more sexual feel. Instead of leaving solid lines around the cut outs, I decided to tear the edges giving it an even more unfinished feel.
The idea of this work came from a dream I had when I was around 15. I dreamt that I had a key that could open any door in this parallel universe. I decided to take a dark approach to this dream as I tend to have nightmares and am really drawn to how dark the subconscious can be even in someone whose personality doesn’t quite reflect that. I chose to lay out my images in a way that would appear that the doors were floating in the mist and clouds with stairs leading up to them, so that the journey man (a small cut out at the bottom of the page who is almost unnoticeable) can choose his door.
I chose to go with the images of the nightmare creatures paired with some images that don’t quit fit into those categories. In my experience with nightmares, you might begin your journey in a dream and end somewhere completely different and much darker. I want those images – the barbies, the child in the clown costume, the eye, and the lips – to make the viewer as uncomfortable if not more so than they would be looking at say the man in the Krampus costume (top, middle). I want the viewer to really think about the lack of control you have in your subconscious and how it can really lead you astray with the stories that it creates while you’re fast asleep.