I had to laugh when I read my horoscope for today…after I’d finished a painting project. Here’s what the stars had to say…
Live your creative fantasies today…but watch out for the reality police at the border. You may experience a bit of conflict with a stubborn person or in a situation that isn’t very well planned. Think things through before taking action or else you may be lost in a world of daydreams without any escape route. Set your mind on the positive aspects of the situation and you’ll succeed.
Nothing could more accurately describe the art adventure I’ve been on this morning. It began yesterday with one of the “random art assignments” I so enjoy. My assignment — should I choose to accept it, which of course I did — was this:
- Monochromatic Color Scheme
- Blue-Violet Hue
- Tempera Paint
Now a real artist could certainly create a work of art following these specifications. Keep in mind, I’m not a real artist. I’m just “old grandma learning to draw and paint.” Keep in mind, too, that I’m having a great time.
Maybe I can blame my advanced age for the little miscue I made as I began planning my project. Instead of blue-violet, I had it fixed in my mind that the color for the work was supposed to be blue.
A blue portrait? Sure. Why not.
What better subject for a blue portrait than that of a blues singer? See how my mind works? Off I went, searching the internet for photos of a blues singer. I found Ethel Waters in a pose that caught my eye. I won’t post it here because my finished painting looks so ridiculous in a close comparison.
I grabbed a pad of Bristol paper and quickly sketched the portrait. I was pleased with the result. While not a perfect likeness, I had, I thought, captured the essence of who Ethel Waters was. I liked my sketch. In fact, I liked it so much that I didn’t want to put it on my easel and attempt coloring it with blue tempera paint. I knew I would ruin it.
And that was the end of that project.
It might have stayed the end of the project had I not suddenly realized I could still paint the portrait. I only had to make another quick sketch on another sheet of paper. So about 4:00 AM, shortly after my husband got up, I bounded out of bed and hurried into my art room. I made my second sketch, told my husband to expect a messy house when he came home, and began gathering up paints and brushes.
I set up my easel with my drawing carefully taped to a piece of Masonite board. So far, so good. I couldn’t find the brushes I wanted, had a terrible time getting the gooey, gooky Tempera paints — I used both blue and white — out of the bottles, and I had my paint on a palette before I even remembered I’d planned to do a light wash. What I wanted to create was an overall hazy effect, a sort of bluish cloud surrounding the woman’s face.
The wash actually went well. I then faced the horrifying prospect of trying to draw — yes, draw — over all those lines of my sketch with a Tempera-filled paintbrush. Oh, I had a small little “rigger”, but I also had a very nervous, very shaky hand. After a few fits and starts — mostly fits — I did get some of the features painted in. It was a mess.
Of course, that’s where the fun always begins, right?
What I enjoy most about art is the fact that there really aren’t all that many rules — at least, not for a self-taught artist. I’m painting: (a) for my own enjoyment, (b) for the opportunity to learn more about art techniques, and (c) for the thrill of discovering new aspects of myself and my world.
I didn’t have to follow any set of guidelines. I didn’t have to emulate any artist. It was my painting, and I could do whatever I wanted. So I dabbled a bit here, stuck a bit more deep blue there, and added a little white to places. I got a wet paper towel and tried to wipe away some of my worst strokes, and more than once I smeared blue into white when I hadn’t meant to.
I washed away first one eye and then the other. I squinted. I stepped back. I washed away the nose. Yep, the mouth got washed away, too. Of course, I re-drew each facial feature, hoping to improve upon them. I played with the jaw line, had a difficult time trying to figure out where this woman’s neck was supposed to be — she’s looking over her shoulder, facing the viewer — and I hadn’t even considered a “light source”.
Live and learn.
After a time, I called it done. But then, I picked up my brush and dabbled a little more. Oh, dear, no highlights in her dark eyes. Gotta fix that. More dabbling. More tweaking. More fun.
Now, before I put my “work of art” on display here, go back and re-read that horoscope: Live your creative fantasies today…but watch out for the reality police at the border. You may experience a bit of conflict with a stubborn person or in a situation that isn’t very well planned. Think things through before taking action or else you may be lost in a world of daydreams without any escape route. Set your mind on the positive aspects of the situation and you’ll succeed.
I definitely lived a creative fantasy, and yes, the reality police stopped me at the border. I certainly did find a little conflict with a situation that wasn’t very well planned. I should have thought things through a bit more before I took action, so ultimately I was lost in a world of daydreams. Now, it’s time for me to set my mind on the positive aspects of the situation.
- I had an immense amount of fun doing this project
- This project was the first time I felt I was truly expressing something from within myself
- I learned more about using and mixing Tempera paints
- I got more practice on brushstrokes and painting techniques
- The portrait isn’t a complete disaster. I like the background effects.
I’m reminding myself, too, that a year ago, I could never have done this. I couldn’t have done this even six months ago. I’ve come a long, long way in the time I’ve been drawing, and I intend to go a long way more. Stick around and watch me.