I’m going through a crazy time with art right now. We all know that chaos is supposed to lead to order, and for the sake of my sanity I hope that’s true because right now EVERYTHING — my art, my studio, my life itself — is in a state of chaos.
That’s probably to be expected, really. With my husband having retired on the first, my day-to-day routines have been turned upside down. more so than I had ever imagined. It seems odd, really. Having him home has never felt disruptive before. Even when he was home for an extended time earlier this year due to a shoulder injury, life seemed to go on in a quite normal manner.
But, not now. I think, on his part, the idea of retirement makes it all different. This is different. It’s the first time he’s ever been without a job, the first time he hasn’t been involved in helping people through the work he does. It’s touched at the very heart of who he is, so I understand that he’s got to “find himself” all over again.
And this major change in our life has come at a time when my “art attitudes” have also been changing. As I’ve found new freedom in art, I’ve become more experimental, more focused on doing, more willing to let my art be whatever it is — and right now, it’s chaotic. What more can I say!
I’ve mentioned to several of you in comments that I’m on this wild streak of trying anything and everything, all with a feeling that the more crazy things I do, the more likely it is that I might actually find a technique or method that I can use. Or, maybe not. Maybe all I’m really doing is making a huge mess.
Honestly, my brain feels as if it’s taking off in a dozen different directions all at the same time. I want to try everything! I can’t control myself. Seriously. So I pick up paints or pens and I just start making marks. Chaotic marks. Meaningless marks. Just circles and swirls and splatters — anything to get this restless energy out of my hands.
Like this… earlier I’d been dipping sheets of watercolor paper into left-over, watered-down acrylic gouache. Then, after playing with “oil paint splatters” earlier, I just grabbed a brush and frantically started making my crazy marks.
I can’t really even call it a doodle. Maybe I can call it manic — that’s exactly how I felt as I made these frenzied marks. It was a crazy feeling.
And that “oil splatter” idea? Oh, it was fun. Quite messy, but definitely fun. I was playing with thin glazes a few days ago, and I wondered if I could use thinned oil paints in a similar fashion to watercolor and create a sort of “drip art” — like that Halloween raven.
So, I tried it. I mixed ivory black with ultramarine blue and thinned it down with medium. I drew the outline of the raven, then painted with thick paint in some places, thin glaze in others, and I splashed on more wet drops here and there. I splattered the canvas — one previously toned with a glaze of raw umber — using a toothbrush dipped in my thinned oil paints. It all turned into a bit of a mess.
Obviously my techniques need a lot of work, but I can see possibilities here. I discovered that I could use the end of a brush to make “feathery” marks, and imagine how this might look if I added drops of other colors. And maybe canvas isn’t quite the right surface. Maybe I should try paper, wood, metal… who knows!
It’s exciting to play this way, to take art materials and do whatever I feel like doing with them. Yes, I’m still studying “proper techniques” but I’m also experimenting with a lot of “improper” things, and meanwhile “the cosmos is revolving” around me. Little coincidences happen. Synchronicities surround me. It’s making my head spin.
One of my “methods” — if they can be called that — is to use up any paint I have on my palette after I’ve completed a project. So, I soak sheets of watercolor paper in watery color. I pour diluted colors onto papers or dab colors on with tissues or sponges. I just do whatever I feel like in some crazy, chaotic attempt at getting pigment on paper. Why? Well, why not? I figure maybe I can use the colored papers for something.
Like this one:
I thought it would make a nice background for something… until I picked it up and started seeing figures there. So I grabbed a set of dual brush markers. They’d just arrived in my monthly subscription box, and remember my “Sailing Away” project? All those waves rising and falling? I’ve completed it four times now with different media, so should I have been surprised to receive a set of Tombow dual brush pens in a set called “Make Waves”?
And look at the colors! They coordinate perfectly with the colors I’ve been using, so, yes, the cosmos is revolving, bringing me just what I need to continue on this crazy art journey.
I used a few different markers from the new set, and turned my background “blues” into this little illustration:
Silly, yes. Fun, yes. Chaotic, yes. It does reflect what I “saw” in the background, and I enjoyed making more crazy marks to bring out that vision.
I don’t know how long these manic feelings will last, and I do hope that as life settles back into a comfortable new routine for my husband and me the chaos I’ve felt will gradually bring about a bit of order. It’s mind-boggling to see what disarray I can create in my studio in such a short time.
Until then, where I go next with my madness remains to be seen. I do feel a bit crazy. Sometimes I get frantic, and I have to make marks. There are times when I rub my hands together in glee and contemplate what new “art experiments” I might try, and as wild as it’s all been, it’s incredible to look around my studio and see wondrous new possibilities everywhere around me.
Like that old painting on my easel in the corner, the one I wasn’t happy with before, the one I’ve been practicing glazing techniques on. It’s beginning to look different now, or maybe I’m just seeing it differently. There are possibilities there.
It’s bizarre, actually, to look around and see all the drawings and paintings I’ve been making and recognize the new sense of freedom they represent. I’m definitely in the process of learning to express myself in different ways, and maybe the “retirement” changes and disruptions were just what I needed to push me over some brink, out of some box, off on an exciting new pathway.
Chaos may feel a bit uncertain, but it feels exciting, too.