All About Painting

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Beware The Ides Of April

Beware the Ides of April

Actually March was cold, rainy and mostly miserable except for some rare glimpses of spring-like days. But, good old April had way too many surprises to even come close to the title “spring.” In my last post (“ Moving On") I mentioned a wet rainer was coming. Well, it did! Then it was followed by high wind warnings (some parts of Charlotte actually suffered direct hits by tornados). Ouch! Up in the mountains we had rain and wind. The very next episode was a freeze warning, and as promised it was under 30° this morning.

After the freeze alert the day turned out sunny and a lot warmer – 60’s. We are all hoping that we have seen the last of winter weather.

I did get to the studio (15 paces from out cottage door) and started a new painting. I decided just to bypass the dummy stage and dive right in to the work. I’ve actually had the idea in my head since last month, but refused to think of details until yesterday. For me, that is sloppy work, but I think it will go well. Here a look at my initial start for “Forsythia.”

I usually begin my watercolors with some background glaze, for example, the sky. I don’t always start with the sky, but about 85% of my landscapes begin there. This sky is simple – one color and a fairly easy layout. I work on dry paper and layout where I want things to go with light pencil marks. Next, I wet the sky area with a 1” brush, being careful not to wet any other area at this point. In this way, I can get the paper pretty wet so that my sky will blend better with even strokes of light blue paint vertically across the paper. While the sky is still wet I use a balled up paper towel to lift up color to create interesting clouds.



Monday, April 28, 2008

Moving On

I’ll write more on my journey to watercolor in a later post. Time to move on to … painting.

It is a real rainer this morning. It is dark, wet, and gloomy. I usually like the rain but I could have used some more peppy weather for a Monday. I have plenty of windows and lots of natural light in my studio, but only if the sun actually comes out. Duh! Otherwise, I’ll need to turn on the floodlights to see what I’m painting. I really need to start a piece this morning or I will waste the week with a lot of meaningless drivel. If I can pull myself together and go to work, I know I will chase the gloom away. I would just rather paint with natural light. Oh well, take’em as you find’em!

I hope the sun is shinning on your day wherever you are contemplating an art project. If not, be happy for the day and what it will bring.



Friday, April 25, 2008

First Come First Served

When is it time to create a Blog? Now seems right but everything else I try out for the first time seems to be right, too. My guess is that it reallly doesn't matter when! It is really about "What." So, for all of you who love painting with water, pigments and a brush -- here goes.

It has only been three years since I took the plunge (no pun intended) into watermedia. Not that I'm a "newbie painter," I just never really "got it" before! I've been an "Oil Man" since my grandmother bought me one of those cool wooden boxes with tiny (probably 1 or 2 cm) of 4 or 6 colors inside. It had one brush and a 5 x 10 canvas covered piece of cardboard. Oh yes, little miniture bottles of linseed oil and turpentine. I was a bit scared of this new thing called painting but intrigued enough to be excited by the prospect. I felt I had arrived. My little drawing were going to lead me into the world of Rembrandt (whoever that was) and I would begin a new stage in my artistic talent with creation of little stick figures with a brush and paint!

Up until this momentus time in my young life (5 or 6) my pallete had been crayons and my canvas odd pieces of paper that I managed to find around the house. But, granny saw a buddy painter in the rough but simple doodles of my masterpeices. she thought it was time for this young artist to get on the painting band wagon! I was so impressed and in awe of this magnifient gift, it took me 3 months to get up the nerve to open the box the second time.

I remember it was a rainy day outside. It was my kind of "creativity day." I was up early hunting for colored pencils and paper when it struck me that my little pine box was waiting for me to paint something. Of course, I was more inclined to draw one of my stick-figure battle scenes complete with lots of blood and burning half tracks. But the beautiful little box beckened to me. Surely one would never use paints to create a masterpiece for Granny.

I hadn't completely ignored this painting thing for the whole 3 months, I had been thinking about what would be an appropriate subject to waste those tiny tubes of paint on. A scene popped in my head of a water fall, blue lagoon and lots of trees all around. So I glanced at the directions, opened the green tube and gave it a squeeze. With a glob of green paint all over my hands I opened the turpentine bottle with a pair of pliers and tried to get wash the paint off! My next squeeze hit the canvas, so that is where my first tree would go -- by default! With brush in hand I dipped it into the paint and slowly "drew" a tree. The paint resisted leaving the brush and making a tree on the canvas. In fact any attempt I made to direct the brush and glob of paint met with resistance. My hand begain to shake as my nerves shattered to pieces. It suddenly dawned on me that I was never going to learn how to paint with this sticky, gooey mess called oil paint, nor could I draw anything using a bristle brush -- impossible. I threw the wet canvas in the box along with the wet brush, shut the lid and tossed the whole mess on my book shelf. I picked up my colored pencils and finished my rainy afternoon creating the coolest Civil War battle scene I 'd ever done using blue dots for the Yanks and gray dots for the Rebs with lots of bullets flying and plenty of blood. It was 1948 and I was happy again. It would be over 30 years before oil paint and I came together again.

What's The Point?

If you read my last blog (First Come First Served) you might be asking that very question, "What's the point"? My early experience with painting was a disaster in my opinion. I believe I was too young to dabble in oil paints. My motor skills, or something like that, were not developed well enough for me to overcome the simple nuances of working with paint and brush. I also had no concept of color mixing and blending. I also didn't have the guidance and support of a mentor. As a result, I believe I developed a fear of painting and color. I was too tight and not as loose as I became in later years. My sense of experimentation had not developed yet. It was too easy for me to fall back on what I was used to and what I was good at. At that stage of my life I really hadn't completely explored drawing enough to move on to painting with confidence. I had not yet had a successful experience with poster painting, which as I remember was an easier introduction to paint and brush. That was to come when I hit the first grade at my elementary school. Yes, once upon a time public schools offered art during the day, as well as recess and physical fitness programs.

So the point of my last blog’s story is this: It is good to encourage young protégées to try new mediums in their work, but remember that they will develop better skills if they are given a little more instruction and encouragement as they progress through the stages of learning any new medium or technique. My Granny, God bless her, certainly meant well. However, by adding a few days of supervised painting instruction along with that gift of the little wooden box of paints might have made a big difference in my having a positive experience verses a negative one.

If you have a child or grandchild who has, at a young age, shown a natural talent for drawing or painting, by all means encourage them to create art. However, try to give them the best leg up with a few neighborhood art classes. Even if you are an artist yourself, Exposing the youngster to an experienced art teacher along with other children with similar interests will be the best possible gift you could give them. Many communities today offer art classes for youngsters. You can find weekend classes offered at the YMCA, YWCA, churches, art stores, and through private art instructors in their homes. Think about it.