At the moment I have a lot of paintings on my easel — or nearby — that are, frankly, hideous. They’re mostly painting exercises I’ve been doing to learn more about colors. I have one monstrosity (which I won’t show you) with orange skies, leafy brown trees, and awful red bushes.
Why paint such horrible things? I suppose the answer is because I can. A better answer though, is because I’m learning a lot by doing it. I’m learning about values and colors and how one value relates to another.
I also have a number of other learning projects underway, including a very simple still life that’s actually coming along quite nicely. I’m pleased with it.
I’m pleased, too, with a building project. Yes, you read that right. I’m painting a building, an old barn, to be precise, and so far, so good.
And so it is, my mornings are filled with practice paintings, brush stroke exercises, lessons on color mixing, and other technical aspects of oil painting.
But then, once the work is complete, it’s time to play. This is when I grab a canvas panel, turn to the left-over paint sitting on my palette, and just start making marks. With no pre-conceived notions of what I should be painting, I put colors here and there, let them blend together, or do whatever feels right.
This morning’s playtime was especially exciting, because I no sooner began making my marks than I began to see a fantastical new world opening up before me. It’s a mystical-looking place, a place where I can easily imagine (remember, this is my year of IMAGINATION) wizards and witches and dwarves and gnomes, and goodness knows what else creeping through the mists and shadows.
For the next few days, I’ll probably let this little canvas sit close by my easel. I’ll look at it, and I’ll wonder about this shadowy beginning.
Is that water trickling through the woods? Or is a pathway leading deeper into a realm of fantasy? Are those moss-covered trees to the right? Is there an entire new world hiding behind those bare trees on the left? Why does it all seem to be shrouded in fog?
Of course, when I look at it tomorrow, I might see it in a very different way. Depending on what colors I have, I might change this world I’ve started to create.
Who knows what it will become?
I’m loving this playtime each day. More and more I’m learning to see shapes and figures and all sorts of possibilities within the edges of a simple canvas. All it takes is a bit of color, a few brush strokes, and a generous dollop of imagination.
So, what do you see in this mystical realm?
I’m eager to follow this pathway, to step into this painting and see just where it might lead me.