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.

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Winter’s Got Spring Up It’s Sleeve

This is my first post for a group blog called Paint Party Friday.  It’s a venue for artists to link up and share their works in progress as well as finished work  They also feature an artist interview a week. There’s a wide range of professional and amateur artists and lots of different styles.  I like that it gives me a nice soft deadline for finishing a painting.
Last weekend on my favorite jazz station, KMHD,  I heard the song “Winter’s Got Spring Up It’s Sleeve” by June Christy.  It was the first time I’d ever heard it, though it was recorded in the 60s.  I loved that image and immediately got a picture in my mind of a winsome winter spirit in a blue robe with warm sleeves spilling flowers — the heat from the flowers blowing winter’s robe skyward — a circle of life sort of thing.
On this piece I tried using masking, salt dispersion and layering color. I tried to combine loose color and detail.  I glazed Winter’s skin with iridescent acrylic and splattered the same paint for more snow flakes.  I’m not sure it was entirely successful, but dear husband and a few friends gave me good feedback, so here it is:

Winter’s Got Spring Up It’s Sleeve * watercolor, acrylic & ink * 7×10″