Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Conquered the Fear

12x16" Watercolour 2015 #3

 This is the portrait that I was afraid to paint.  It was done from a snapshot of one of my boys at around age 2.

So many challenges for a newbie.  Back-lit face, almost monochromatic colour scheme to enliven, water, light, perspective (which had to be completely adjusted from the snapshot photo), tiles, and more. 

I couldn't put it off painting it any longer though.  What is the saying:  "In life you either need inspiration or desperation."  This was a true case of desperation.

The issue was that I had moved up to a 12x16" paper, but it was a block of paper (glued on two edges).  And I had promised my friends at Ellis House that I would put something, anything, in the next members' exhibition.  Here it was Good Friday and the exhibition painting, which I had not yet started nor even planned, needed to be in the next day.  I had this little portrait drawn and ready to paint on the top of the block, and I didn't want to take it off and have to stretch the paper.  Plus, I really just needed to overcome my fear and get it done.

So I did.

I didn't have the yellow I wanted.  So I used the one I had, although I knew it would be unusual.  But it turned out.

And I loved it.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Bravely Attempting the First Face

A4, watercolour, 2015 #2

Before I tackled this little watercolour portrait, I had drawn a larger picture of one of my other children, but because it was backlit and with delicate lighting and a very particular mood, I was still too scared to try painting it.  I felt satisfied with the things I'd learned from the first portrait and thought I must try to do a face, but I wasn't ready to do that one just yet.  So to keep my momentum, I found this cute picture of another son from a few years ago.  I don't normally like "photo faces" in portraits because of the obvious and unnatural posing, but this so perfectly captured his personality that I thought if I could pull off the squashy-face grin, I'd be really pleased.  Nothing like a challenge for your first face.

So here is the series of progress photos.  The first was taken just for fun with my iphone and posted for friends/family on Facebook, and the second I took to post to the local art group for their advice as to whether I should darken the background.  Opinions were mixed, but I decided to go ahead and do it.  The last photo is of the finished painting. 

My favourite part of this whole painting is the shoes.  Funnily enough, it's also the favourite part for the subject.  He loved those shiny silver sport shoes. What a privilege to be able to work at bringing back precious memories for my little ones.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Story of How I Started Painting In Earnest

A4, Watercolour, 2015 #1

Besides the fact that I really wanted to learn watercolour, we had also recently moved from overseas and brought nothing with us besides what could fit in two suitcases each.  So there was nothing on the walls of our new home, and nothing to put on them.  I was able to obtain some free picture frames that someone was throwing out, and determined to fill them with something meaningful to make our space more homey.  It's very hard when you can't hold on to things that mean something to you, and the next best thing you can do is create something with your own hands to redirect those lost orphaned feelings to a new belonging that somehow means as much as the missing item did -- because you made it yourself and put your own memories and feelings into it.

When I joined my friends at the Ellis House Community Art Centre, I was immediately taken under everyone's wings as a total newbie.  Karl, pictured above in the yellow shirt, was doing water colours too so I stuck pretty close to him at first, and he gave me good feedback and tips.

The first week I worked on a quick "sketch" of pink flowers, but it turned out poorly.  I was using Cotman tubes, which were okay, but I hadn't painted since 3 years before (and not at all before that) so I couldn't remember anything about how much water to use or how to hold the brush or how to use the water to its best advantage.  That same first week I also did a larger drawing for a painting that I was too afraid to start adding colour until I got a grip on how the paints worked.

The second week, I started work on my first portrait, of my little daughter when she was about two years old, pictured above.  I had such trouble with some parts of it but in the end, for my first effort, I was pretty happy.  It's on my piano room wall right now.

One thing that I appreciate the most about my own foray into art, is the interest that my little ones have taken in making art works of their own that mean something special to each of them.  I'll post more about that later, but suffice to say that the little ones picnicking in the back yard of Ellis House were also taken under everyone's wings when they came to visit and create art for the day, and it is so motivating for them to keep creating and learning new skills too.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Story of How I Got Hooked On Watercolour

When I was little, my favourite thing in the world to do was to draw.  A born and bred night owl, I would stay up late into the night working on sketches.  I drooled over boxes of Crayola 64 right through adulthood.  But I never took the time once I reached high school to really develop my art skills.  I was always in the music stream (flute, piano, singing) and didn't take the time to continue on with my art.  While I always dreamed of getting back to it, university and college and work and marriage and children followed one right after the other in a healthy but busy (if not overwhelming) kind of way. 

About three years ago, after a long stretch of babies and diapers and being-stuck-at-home, I finally decided that NOW was the time to figure out what I could do with art.  I had a deep natural interest in watercolour, and decided that I'd try it out.  I enrolled in an 8-week community watercolour art course at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, made myself a great big art portfolio bag to haul my supplies around in, bought a $10 set of paint pans, and joined in.

I worked on four paintings during the 8 weeks, one of which is pictured above, and all of which are in the trash now.  Primarily what I learned at that time was to be accurate in the drawing stage.  I really had to work hard on that, but once I got that into my head, the rest of it came a little more easily.  I was the only person left in the last class, but my teacher said something that stuck with me:  "You will be selling your paintings."  Of course that was encouraging!  I was determined to keep learning.

Since then, we moved overseas, I sold what little art supplies I had, and was too busy until this year to take it up again.   It is through friends who attend a little local community art centre that my interest and entry into the world of art has begun again.  This little blog is to record the progress of what I'm learning.  I'll endeavour to put everything on here, flops and all.  I hope you enjoy.