Art, Painting, Photography, Self-Expression

The joy of color

The red project

When my DSLR broke back in March, my heart was broken. Seriously, I felt like a limb or a sense was cut off for me. It’s amazing how dependent on my camera I’ve become. It’s a form of expression.

And the creativity of photography has become a real source of joy.

With all the expenses of this year, I quickly decide that a new camera body would have to take a bit of a back seat.  And that gave me the ‘excuse’ of waiting for a new release Nikon later this year/early next year.

In the meantime, I thought, I’ll try out painting.  My fine-motor skills have never been the best. But I love color. And I love creating. And I’ve done some decent painting with watercolors in the past. So I thought, “well, it can’t hurt to try to learn.”  I ordered up some paints, an easel, and some medium. I watched a ton of YouTube videos. And finally I decided that I had to actually put brush to canvas to understand what people were trying to tell me in the videos.  There are way way way too many videos out there. And so many of them are ‘definitive’. But what I think the most important thing I have learned is  that there is no ‘right’ way to paint. There is no ‘right’ technique. There is no ‘wrong’ way. They have different results. And different elements, but you have to figure out what works for you.

I started with just a blue project. I didn’t mix any colors in. I used one type/dilution of medium (I’ve decided that Liquin looks like a good way for me to go), and just started seeing what happened when I put paint on the brush and put it on the canvas. You can see this Blue project here.  It was cool. But also terrifying, because I realized that I really had VERY little understanding of what would happen when I applied the brush. Brush shape matters tons. Your slightest touch on the canvas matters TONS. And if you really like the way something looks, don’t touch it, because you’ll change it and never get it back to the way it was!  Well, at least I can’t yet.

And I decided that I knew NOTHING about what medium would do to the paint and what thinner would do. Well, I knew in theory, of course, but not in practice. So I watched a bunch of YouTube people tell me how to mix medium, paint, and thinner. I bought mason jars, and I mixed up a bunch of different concoctions in green. And I made my Green Frond Project.   My husband really likes this one. But he loves green. I’d like to do it again, properly, since he likes the color so much. I don’t like it so much, because I see a major flaw. The major flaw made me decide I needed to add another step to my creative process. I needed to learn to sketch, at least, roughly what I was going for, on the canvas. So I went and got myself charcoal pencils. And more thinner.

Then I started thinking about what I wanted to do for my next project. My red project (I call it red – my husband insists it’s pink. It’s probably somewhere close to both.) I prepped the canvas with background this time – still not thinned out enough – thinner next time. I slept next to it in the afternoons. I sketched my circles. I slept next to it some more. Finally, when I was dreaming about it, I went in there and squeezed some paint onto my palette. I mixed up some paint, mixed in some whites, some black. And I went for it.

A few hours later, I emerged. I let it dry a little. I slept again. Then I used some more brushes. Fiddled some more. And while I am frustrated by my severe lack of skill … the hand does not always move like I want it to … the color does not quite match the imagined image … I am SO pleased. I feel like it turned out way more like what I imagined than the two previous projects.

The act of planning the painting, and the actual painting is giving me real joy. Especially when it expresses what I see or feel. I’m certainly no genius artist, but I can see progress.

I need a better studio. As always, I need more time. And I have SO much to learn. But I’ve already started dreaming about what to do next. I’d like to actually paint ‘something’ this time. To see what that is like. Something simple to start with. Suggestions? I’m thinking a bowl. A box. Maybe a flower. Though none of those sound simple when I start thinking about what’s involved in the shading, light, etc. But I feel like I need to paint something other than what is purely in my head in order to learn more. Knowing something about light from photography helps, but is not enough.

Thanks to all of you who have offered encouragement. The joy is in the creating, but there is also a certain glow that comes from the praise of others.

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