Monday, January 25, 2016

Bad Days and Good

I was working on a piece today and absolutely ruined it.  So many hours of work gone, it was like losing a file that you forgot to save on the computer.  I won't show the piece here, since I don't have any photos of before, when it might have been salvageable.  I'm going to view this as a learning opportunity.

I chose to make a mandala for a friend of mine, and first spent a fair amount of time selecting images that reflect her personality and interests.  Then I drew two concentric circles on the paper, which is a 10"x10" piece of watercolor (Arches cold-press #140) paper.  She likes nature a lot and is particularly interested in plants that have a spiral or fibonacci pattern.  She also lives in a city with a big bridge, plays the harp, and has spent a lot of time in Latin America.

So I started with the drawings and then water colored the center circle.  So far so good...a blooming succulent in the center circle, surrounded by sand.  The color came out great, and so did the shading.

The next circle had blue morpho butterflies alternating with a ferny sort of plant.  The drawing was fine, but I got into trouble with the color on the butterflies (couldn't quite get that electric blue), and then I had such dark values there, it was hard to work around them. 

The bridge was in the top part of the square, and there was a tree silhouette in the lower left corner, with the harp in the lower right corner.

Each element would have been fine, but there were two major flaws in the whole composition.  Almost all the values ranged from medium to dark, so the overall effect was dark.  The second problem was that the second circle was too busy and that the medium value of the background wasn't enough contrast with the background in the first circle.

It was a lot to keep in mind.  Each level was intricate enough that it took a long time to complete, and I didn't get a sense of how the circles would interact with each other until I got almost to the end.  Most of the craft was ok, except the delineation between one circle and the next.  So I decided to outline each circle in pen.  My hand is just not steady enough, so I ended up with wider and wider bands to compensate.  Each time I tried to rescue the painting, it just got worse.

The biggest lesson is that, although the piece itself is not what I'd like (and I absolutely cannot give it to my friend), I can take the lessons learned, show up tomorrow to a different piece of paper, and create something beautiful and interesting!

Showing up is a big part of the work!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Life HappensI

I was on a roll with my art work in November: regular schedule, lots of work happening, feeling good about what was coming out.  Then the volunteer program that I volunteer with hit a major bump in the road and I came out of "retirement".  I'm still a volunteer, but took up a more active role in the administration which has involved a fair amount of trouble shooting.  Things are more stable now, but I expect to be busy for a while.

I'm making time for art though, and just finished a course through Craftsy called Dynamic Detail in Pen, Ink and Watercolor, instructed by Steven Reddy.  Well, I say I've finished because I've watched the videos and am 80% of the way through the projects.  It's an interesting process that Steven teaches, using an old masters' technique called grisaille.  You put the values in using gray tones and then you add the color.

I've done the first stages on a couple of pieces:

You finish up by re-inking the contour lines in the foreground and then adding some hatching and a little white gel pen outlining.  So now I have that part to do.

What does it all have to do with healing?  It was very freeing, first there was no worry about perspective, correctness, or whether or not the product looked like the subject.  Secondly, many stages of the process were meditative and I spent time out of time just focusing and breathing.  Finally, as with all art work, the inner artist shows up and makes choices about what to draw, what to emphasize, how to organize, what colors to use, etc.  So it leads towards having a personal style and finding one's voice.