Almost two years ago — June 30, 2020, to be exact — I wrote and published a post with the title “Just Do It”. Now, I’m not expecting anyone here to remember that specific post, but if you’re curious you can go back and read it here: Just Do It
I wasn’t thinking about that post either this morning as I sat down to finish up the final day of my 15-day “Floral Challenge”. For the record, it took me 24 days to do a 15-day challenge, but… who’s counting? I’m pleased that I completed all fifteen floral drawings. You’ve seen the first nine, and here are five of the final six:
Today’s prompt — the final one in the challenge — was “rose”. Yes, of course it was. Roses are challenging to draw, at least with any sort of realism. The challenge saved the best for last.
Even though realistic roses are difficult to draw, we can, however, easily draw very simple roses. Art Hub for Kids has a great little video demonstration.
This looks so simple, I’m sure even I could do this! But I didn’t want to. The point of this challenge was to push myself a bit, and I wasn’t going to take the easy way out as I’ve so often done in the past. Nope. Not this time. I was going to draw a rose — not a long-stemmed bud, but a real rose in bloom.
Over the years, I’ve drawn quite a few roses, and I can’t say that any of them have ever been very good, although I will say that some have been better than others. You can see a few of my earliest roses — all from 2016 — here: A Rose Is a Rose Is a Rose
What I’m getting at, you see, is that I wasn’t especially thrilled at the idea of drawing or painting a rose. I was determined to do it just so I could officially finish the challenge, but I certainly wasn’t excited about it. I dreaded it, to tell the truth. I hem-hawed around. I kept busy with other things. I did my best to put it off as long as I could. Finally, I sucked in a deep breath. “Oh, for Pete’s sake! Just do it!” I muttered.
NOTE: In case you’re not familiar with the expression, “For Pete’s sake…” is a midwestern US colloquialism. Nobody know who Pete is.
I set the mood by lighting a stick of rose-fragranced incense. Not that it really helped; again, I was stalling. But the sooner I got started, the sooner I could finish, and even though I knew the results would not be pretty, I was ready at last to get it over and done with.
I’ve been doing these floral studies in oil pastels. It’s been a good experience, really. I’ve learned a few different techniques for using them, and another thing I’ve learned is how much I love adding watercolor backgrounds. The oil pastel resists the water, naturally, and I like the effect the watercolor adds.
But anyway… I grabbed my handy jar of Cray-Pas Expressionist oil pastels. Certainly not the most expensive oil pastels I own, definitely not my favorite oil pastels, but they had one advantage. They were sitting out in a jar on my desk. I grabbed the jar, took out an orange, a red, and a yellow, and I shrugged.
Just do it.
So, I did. I found a reference photo and tried to create a sense of the intricate folds of the petals. I knew I wasn’t doing very good, but … I just did it. I drew most of the basic shape with orange, used my darker red pastel for shadowed areas, then worked with my very light yellow to blend and shape the blooms. I later added a bit of Paul Rubens white to make the blending process smoother and easier.
I thought it was awful, and maybe it is. But as I sit here looking at it now, I actually do see a rose. It’s not the greatest rose, but it is a rose.
That was when I thought back to those words. Just do it. Had I written a post about those words before? Yes, I had, and what I’d written about was very much the same thing as what I’d just experienced.
It’s funny, really. Every time I tell myself I really can’t paint something, I find that if I sit down and just do it, I come up with something better than I’d expected. – From Just Do It
Today, two years later, I’m re-discovering this simple truth. I didn’t think I could draw or paint a rose at all, especially not using oil pastels. But I did it. And best of all, I had fun doing it. I really enjoyed using a “fan” brush and my little Cotman watercolors to add a background. Maybe that, too, could have been better, but hush! I’m tired of thinking in terms of good, better, and best.
I’m at a point now where art is becoming interesting. Let me rephrase that just a bit. I’m at a point now where MY ART is becoming interesting — to me, at least. I’m recognizing my own individual expression, and I’m allowing my art to be what it is. And time after time, I’m surprising myself.
It’s fun to step up, make my own choices, and figure out my own way of doing things. It’s fun to just do it.