A Bird Told Me

Yesterday I got a chance to work on art almost all day long.  It was a rare event and I savored it.  When I was working on my illustrations for the video Never Going Back to the Gravity by Mad July, I didn’t have time to work on my own illustrations, but I still worked in my journal.  I write in the morning and sketch when I get the chance.

In March there were a few times when I was in meetings or on a long bus ride and I got to do some stream of consciousness sketches.   It was interesting to me to see how little scribbles turned into visual narratives of a sort.  There was  no set direction and no goal.  A different sort of energy comes into play than what would happen if I was drawing from life where I get super focused and aware of the world around me.  In these, I became more aware of the world within me.

Three of them, I am developing into painting.  All of them speak to reconnection with the natural world.  This one became the painting I posted last week:

Pencil and colored pencil
Spring Redemption

 This one:

Became this new painting:

A Bird Told Me, watercolor, ink, pencil, colored pencil on 300 lb Arches paper treated with absorbent ground gesso

These drawings and paintings helped me move forward a bit with my art.  The Spring Redemption painting took three tries to get the face the way I wanted.  After the first try failed, I decided to paint over it with Daniel Smith’s absorbent ground gesso.  It covered the first painting fairly well although there was still a shadow.  When I painted, though, the paint bleed outside the lines I had drawn.  It was not a happy accident.  I don’t mind loosening up when the watercolor won’t let me have my way, but I wanted subtle use of color.  I got a fresh piece of Arches Paper and everything went well the third time around.

The paper that failed me got another 2 coats of absorbent ground.  I purposely made brush strokes for texture.  Since I knew the paint might bleed, I paid attention to edges and stopped before I reached them and let the paint settle.  It mostly happened with very wet applications. 

I painted the dress of the woman in real lapis lazuli paint from Daniel Smith.  It’s a duller blue that ultra marine, but I like that it’s “real,” and provides for me a little history and earthiness to this woman who is listening to nature sing.

The next sketch I’m turning into a painting is a bit more abstract and I’ll show that hopefully next week, if I can keep carving out painting time. 

Life is good.

All comments and shares are welcome.

Thanks for stopping by.

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A Tree Grows in My Journal

One of the things I love about art is that I’ll never learn everything about it.  Each day there’s a new discovery awaiting me.  Another is that it’s taught me to accept my own limitations and the quirks that appear in my drawing and painting.  I practice to master techniques but as I practice, I learn to accept my own lack of mastery, my own signature.  It’s quite wonderful when you get to a point where you can accept your weaknesses and go about building on them to create your own style.

One of the frustrations I’ve had with watercolor is that it has variations — staining, transparent, granulating, etc.  Granulating was a hard one to understand.  I mixed some pretty mottled washes that deeply irritated me.  I wanted everything to be smooth.  I used smooth paper, continuous lines and strove for tight detail.

Now 3 years into an almost daily drawing and painting practice, I’ve learned to LOVE the variations and the unpredictability.   (Learning to lift out and smooth edges helped tremendously.)  Now I’m using rough paper and learning how to exploit granular textures.  I got the biggest thrill dropping some granulating colors into wet washes and watch the colors swirl around and mix themselves.  Then, if I mix them before I paint, it’s fascinating how they separate as they dry creating an organic texture. 

Here’s a tree trunk I did mixing Daniel Smith’s Sap Green and Transparent Yellow Oxide.  I painted a very wet wash and it dried like this:

I filled in the ground under the tree with a natural mineral color that Daniel Smith makes — pigments made from ground stone.  This is Red Fuchsite Genuine.  I love how the sediment from the ground minerals make an earthy texture — this came out like red sandy soil.
I added an edge of brown ink, then I inked in the tree trunk in black, and resisted the urge to try to mimic any real bark texture, just flowed with the paint.  I painted the background Lapis Lazuli, also from Daniel Smith, for the sky:

I’m much more successful at life long learning if I keep coming back to beginner’s mind — a state of curiosity, wonder and openness.  It’s nice to know I can keep growing and never grow bored.