Saturday, September 26, 2009

Painting without drawing

Our assignment was "painting without drawing." I have done this before, with results that amazed me. And it feels free, spontaneous and fun. The idea is to let the color, direct from the brush, create form. And out of nothing, is something!

Our art instructor brought Stargazer lilies and Louisiana irises to class on Friday. Fresh flowers are especially inspiring, as they bombard me with their aliveness and fragrance as I paint. I also enjoy seeing the many "faces" of the flower, by turning it and viewing from many different angles.

I hope you enjoy looking at this lily a fraction as much as I did painting it!
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Creating time and space for my art

Starting another week of painting every day ... it's been quite an experience! Some days I have painted for hours, often starting or continuing on a new project or style. On busier days I get myself to sit down and paint for at least 15 or 20 minutes, playing with colors or form or adding a little to one of my projects. The regularity seems to keep the juices flowing.

A friend asked me the other day if I have a space set aside where I can leave out all of my paint and supplies. Yes! About a year ago, I had an inspiration to turn a little anteroom leading into my kitchen into my "studio." I didn't even think of myself as a painter yet. But I knew if I had a studio I could become one! In my studio, I put my dining room table (which was rarely used) in front of the window and my easel in the corner. I hung my grandmother's artwork (above left) on the wall with the window and my own first painting (above right) on the wall with the bookcase. Whenever I sit down, I feel inspired.

I am thankful to have this challenge to paint every day and a dedicated space in which to do it. Creating time and space validates and honors my yearning to create art. How do you create time and space for what you love to do???

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Trying the masters' techniques

Last night I was reading before bed, and came across one of the Six Laws of Chinese Painting, which was: Transfer Masters' Techniques. It said: "Learn from the masters by copying and analyzing their artwork. As a result, you will learn a variety of techniques and theories with which you can develop your own."

Though my intent is to create original artwork, I felt compelled to take this advice to heart. When I was through reading, I started to prepare a greeting card which I had bought that day to mail to my son. I felt a rush of energy to try to paint the sea scene on the greeting card, which was a watercolor print. The more I thought about it, the more excited I was to try it. So I decided to get up early the next morning to get started.

I started by using a small brush and masking fluid to preserve the white of the paper for the sea gulls, the waves and the shell in the foreground. After breakfast, I used wet paint to wash on the color for the sun and the sky, then proceeded to wash on color for the beach. I added the trees, then some initial washes for the land in the background and the rocks in the foreground. When I returned to my painting later, I added the colors for the water over the masking. I took the masking off of the birds and the shell and painted the shadows on the birds and detail on the shell. Then I took the masking off of the waves and added some lighter blue hues to the preserved white areas of the water.

Doing this exercise for fun made me realize how much I have learned and also helped me to discover another way to continue to learn. I got to focus on using the techniques I have learned to recreate what I saw and didn't have to make decisions about how to render the scene or compose my painting. Seems like it freed me up to try different techniques and see what fits with my developing style. How cool is that?!

Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 7, 2009

Glad to be here

It's been over 2 years since my husband and I last came to California to visit our son and his partner. We are having a blast, experiencing new things, and just relaxing and hanging out. It is really good to be here. I am amazed that I am painting every day. I've done a sketch and a painting of some of the vegetation outside and experimented with using a light wash over it to simulate rays of light. I made a new sketch of a zinnia from our garden, and am experimenting with my limited travel paints to mix colors. Got inspired to finish my cactus rose, adding darks to the background and loosely to the non-dominant flowers and pads.

I notice that there is still a disconnect between what I want to create and what I actually do create on paper. I want my paintbrush to magically create flowers bursting with color, trees in the moonlight, sun shining through leaves or something in my imagination. Sometimes I'm so excited I just want to be there now. But I have found out that when I so focus on wanting to be there, I cease to enjoy being right here where I am. So I go back to doing and learning and enjoying the process. I love just feeling the brush laying water and color on the paper, or trying new things, and watching what happens. It is so cool. Yes, I'm glad to be here.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A group that loves to paint

I had a visit from the friend who first introduced me to watercolor. She got up early and drove 4 hours just to join our watercolor group at 10:00am.

This group of watercolorists met taking a class and have continued to meet after the class ended just to paint. It's a group of about 4-6 people who meet together for about 2-2 1/2 hours once a week to paint, and to share stories, comments, and suggestions about our art. Going to watercolor group always leaves me encouraged and inspired to paint and try some new things.

This day was typical; we each brought a painting (or paintings) we had been working on. I asked for feedback from the group on mine and got some fresh perspectives on how to progress. Some just got straight to work on their painting. Another asked for input on the mats she had chosen for her artwork. It is always interesting and refreshing to see the styles and work that emerge from the hands and eyes of others.

My friend has not had a group at home to paint with. She says she left inspired to paint. I am reminded of how much an accepting group who all love to paint serves to keep me painting and learning.