My grandson was making a postcard to send to his other grandfather. He became so frustrated that the image he had in his head was not being reproduced on the page. He stopped creating and couldn’t put brush to paper anymore. He was devastated. I told him to just keep going, to take joy in the process. He did and the postcard turned out amazing.
There is something to be learned by just finishing your painting, or your project. As you’re beginning, a lot of paintings go through an ugly stage where you want to quit but if you keep going you can pull it past that point. You learn about adjusting the values so that they work. You learn about the joy of creating and seeing how your painting has ended up. Each painting is a stepping stone to the next one. You learn something from the previous painting that you can put into the next one. Part of the joy that comes from painting is the quest for a better painting. It’s a lifelong quest. So paint and when you get the feeling that your painting is not turning out like you wanted, don’t rip it up, finish it and take joy in the creative process. making something that wasn’t there before.
The left side of our brain wants to label things. That is a tree and this is how you draw a tree. And so you draw a triangle with a rectangle stump and your left brain says that looks good. Now paint it green. Your right brain is left not quite satisfied. Your right brain is looking at the shape the tree actually is. Our right brain is looking at the variety of edges, the angle that the wind is causing the trunk to grow and wait a minute, the color is not the green straight out of the tube. There might be some red popped in there. We need to look to see what is actually there.
Its the same way with people. We want to put them in nice groups with nice little labels. But if you take the time to really look and see, you see the beauty that lies within. That beauty comes from looking in there eyes and getting to know what lies inside. It takes time when we can’t just lump people into a group and walk on by. You get to know them as individuals. It takes some effort but the rewards are great.
Painting is like life and life is like painting. Some of the same lessons apply to both. I recently took a workshop from Stan Miller. His painting methods require time and careful observation. Sometimes in life we want immediate results. But to get results in painting, you have to put in the actual time. We have a picture in our mind of what we want our painting to look like before we start and when life or our painting is not turning out the way we pictured, we may want to stop, throw in the towel, rip up our painting and start over again. It is good to finish the painting. There is something to be learned by the actual finishing of the painting. Sometimes just by finishing we can take our painting beyond the throw away point and it becomes better than we expected. It is in the completing of all the imperfect paintings that we learn and become a better painter. We have to put in the time. Patiently. And with joy because creating is joyful.
There is the visual part of art, the trying to reproduce what you see out there in the world. It is also good to add the emotional part of the painting. You’re trying to paint two dogs by looking at the shapes, the angles, and where the lines intersect other lines. But you are also trying to capture something more. What else are you trying to say with your painting. What are the personalities of the two dogs? Are you capturing the nature of the dogs by capturing how the tongues lop out of the mouths? If you trace a photo, you get a stiff representation of whats in the photo. You want to bring the dogs to life. You want your painting to look better than the photo, more alive, more color.
Concentrating on shapes can help. Instead of thinking eyeball and drawing what your left brain uses to symbolize eyeball, you look at the shape. Your left brain might say to yourself, “Hey Self you don’t want a hair covering up part of that eyeball. You want to show all of the eyeball.” When having the hair cover part of the eyeball says something about the nature of dogs. “Hey Self, you need to show both eyes and make sure they look the same.” When you really want to show the unique shape of each eye and maybe you want one eye to completely disappear. ”Hey Self, those dogs have a lot of nice fur. They are furry. You need to make sure you draw each individual hair.” When your artist brain is saying, drawing every single fence post and every hair is boring. Draw the shape of the fur and describe the nature of the fur where it meets other shapes along its edges. Can you say something about the nature of the dog with an angle on it’s eyebrow? Can I draw a chain without drawing every single ring the exact same way? Shape upon shape and color upon color and suddenly you look down and you have a painting that excites you.
Sometimes you sit back and go wow. I’ve got paintings all over the place. There were paintings up at Eccles in Ogden at the Utah Watercolor Society Two Star Signature Show. (Received Honorable Mention) There is a painting at the Cottonwood Presbyterian Church on The Good Samaritan. “Little Brother has made it into the National Watercolor Society’s Member Show in San Pedro, California. “Playing behind Bamboo is on it’s way to the Western Federation of Watercolor Society’s Show in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The original watercolor of The Cheap Boots and Shoes in Nauvoo, Illinois is on it’s way to a new home in Texas. The spring show for the Utah Watercolor Society will be up in Logan. The Dixie Invitational is showing “The Weaver” (watercolor 3rd place) down in St, George.
As an artist I love creating paintings. But also as an artist, I love showing my art to others. I love the opportunity to have others see the paintings that I have thought about, designed and splashed paint on to create visually the things that I find interesting in this life. It’s good to create and good to share.
So my facebook page has been hacked so beware of any requests or links that come from me.
So the picture above was taken from the inside of the back door of my son and daughter-in-law’s house. It says exactly what the creator wanted it to say. You can read the emotion in each word. So what kind of emotion do we want to convey with our art? And tied to that is what do we want to paint? What grabs our attention. What we choose to capture in a painting says a lot about us as artists. Some find great beauty in landscape while others try to capture the never ending beauty in the human face. I find beauty in painting a variety of things. My art is a witness of the beauty I find in each day that I paint.
“The Weaver” won third place in the watercolor division at the Dixie Invitational in St. George. I combined words with the painting. The words went around the edge of the mat. The words added to the art and added to the image. At Awana Wasi in Peru, they continue with their traditional weaving. What drew me to paint this weaver was the challenge to try and capture the strands of multi-colored thread and the weaver leaning over her work. All those threads come together in a beautiful design, just like each brush stroke combines to create the painting.
In Luke 2:7 it says: “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for him in the inn.”
But there was a stable and there was a manger. And Christ came into this world, into the arms of a loving mother Mary and protecting care of Joseph.
Sometimes in life there seems only one way and when that falls through we think, “Well, that’s it. No other option. No room in the inn.” But life is filled with creativity and options. So when one way doesn’t work we look for another answer to our problem. We seek for other solutions. And we look for the joy and peace that the example from the life of Christ brings into our life. The example of caring for others. Of leading others to finding God in this world of chaos and finding times of goodness in our lives to share with others.
The multitude of angels said, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
So no matter what your religion, it’s a good time to look upward and inward, share kindness with those around us. Happy holidays, and from me, a merry Christmas.
You might have noticed the foreign object on the babies head. It may not be foreign to you but to a mother of all boys, it’s a new decorating idea from a creative daughter-in-law who now has a beautiful place to put the bows she makes.
My sister and I would trade off tending each others kids when they were young. She called one boy into the bathroom to comb his hair. He looked up at her and said, ”Why? Is it Sunday?’ That summed up the boy haircare in our house in one short statement. And that may be why I was blessed with boys and not girls.
Creating art can bring great joy to your life but it’s nice to fill your life up with some human interaction. Time spent with family and friends brings blessings and a richness that can add to your life and thus adding a depth to your art. You can also spend some time sharing an art lesson here and there with those you love.
And lastly I was asked to be interviewed by The LDSPMA Podcast. If you want to hear how to do boys hair you will have to look elsewhere. If you want some stories from my art adventures, listen here.
The above picture is deceiving. Its a lot warmer than it was three days before. But the event was well worth a bit of shivering. It was an opportunity to get out and talk with friends and meet new ones. So the above painting won second place in the quick draw. We had about two hours to start and finish a painting. Its good to not worry about too much pre-thinking and jump right in. That’s when the sketch book habit kicks in. I painted the quick draw from a sketch I did in my sketch book. And the practicing capturing a scene in my sketch book helped me get the drawing down quickly on my watercolor paper so I could dive right into the painting.
The above painting was the first one I painted at the plein air event. It also received a second place award. This view caught my eye right from the parking area of the goosenecks. There is beauty all around us just waiting to be captured by an artist with a bit of paper and paint. And because the weather was so cold and unsettled, it made for capturing some great atmosphere.
Also I have a few paintings displayed at the Gathering of the Guilds. Dave and I will be at the Gallery Stroll from 6 to 6:30 pm this Friday, if you would like to come and say Hi. If you want to come and check out the paintings, they will be there until November 28th. The Gathering of the Guilds will be at the Urban Arts Gallery at Gateway Mall, 116 South Rio Grande St., Salt Lake City.
What happens when you put your full effort into something? When you put your full effort into a painting.? When you give all you can even when you think it won’t be enough?
A little over four years ago, my husband was in the hospital. We were lucky he beat the odds and lived but he did lose his leg. Our young Granddaughter filled our hearts with love and brightened our day with the following card:
I hope that you will get better. And here is some money to help pay for the “prostetic” leg. I know it’s not much but it’s all I had. I love you and Grandma.
“I know it’s not much” Many times we think that what we have to give and to share is not much but we should go ahead and share, put our heart into the project and give all that we have. Our efforts might share the beauty and joy we see with those around us.
The artist has a tendancy to want to stay isolated in their studio and work on their paintings or illustrations. You can’t get the work done unless you are in your studio working but there is a great deal you can learn from being around other artists. It doesn’t matter at what stage you are at in your art career. You can learn and be inspired from those around you. Not only do you want to learn from other artists but it is very satisfying to see someone else find great joy from looking at your artwork or purchasing a piece to hang were they can see it every day.
I have met some of my good creative friends from getting out of my studio. Even when you are quietly sitting, listening and just happen to take notes and sketch in your sketchbook. Even then you can meet someone. I met Carol Williams that way. She saw that I was sketching and she got caught up in the sketches and started talking to me. We worked on a picture book together and worked on other ideas. We sat at book signings together and presented at conferences together. But more than that, we became friends. The same thing happened with a group of young illustrators who attended a presentation I gave at a children’s book conference. They became colleagues and then friends.
So if you would like to meet some other watercolor artists and form some nice friendships with those that paint with watercolor, you might want to join a local watercolor group. Somebody caught me in a weak moment and I will be the president of the Utah Watercolor Society this year. It’s a great way to be inspired and make some lasting friendships. If your in Utah come join us.
What drives an artist to create? What causes them to want to draw or paint so much that they think they should pick up a pencil and try to capture the impossible. Sometimes those goals drive us to spend hours practicing the piano. Other times it prompts us to get out of the isolation of the studio and take a workshop where you have to paint with other people watching your progress. What will they think of your efforts? All those eyes looking at your painting.
There is alway uncertainty looming there. In the book “Art and Fear” Bayless and Orland say,
“Naive passion which promotes work done in ignorance of obstacles, becomes – with courage – informed passion, which promotes work done in full acceptance of these obstacles. Foremost among those obstacles is uncertainty.”
So even though we are uncertain about the outcome, we dive in anyway. We take courage and see where the creativity takes us. The uncertainty of my art has taken me on some grand adventures.
Watercolor sketch of 27th World Championship Fireknife
Without light there is darkness. Light in a painting creates value. Without light there would be no shadow side of an object. When light is blocked, we get cast shadows which create depth and interest in a painting. When you put the lightest light by the darkest dark, you draw attention to that spot. By manipulating values, you can guide the eye around your painting.
We went to the World Fireknife Competition. We watched the Womens’s Competition and the Men’s Preliminaries. How would I capture the energy of the drums and the fire spinning in the darkness. A painting becomes much more than what you see with your eyes. The experience of being at the competition adds a depth to your painting. You remember the beat of the drums and the smell of the fire, the flame spitting on the floor and streaking across in a line of fire. You wonder about the properties of fire as you see the contestants put the flaming Fireknife on their feet and to their lips.
‘I tried to capture the flickering of the flame by letting my brush dance across the watercolor paper. I loved capturing the form of the dancer by the light cast on his torso and the back edge getting lost in the darkness.
Clouds over the ocean in Hawaii.
As artists, we try to capture what we feel and see around us. There was a quote by President Henry B. Eyring which was displayed with his watercolors at BYU Idaho: “My motivation in all of my varied creative work seems to have been a feeling of love. I felt the love of a Creator who expects His children to become like Him—to create and to build.”
A sketch from 2 1/2” x 4 1/4” sketch book. “Where Are You Headed?”
”…..but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light,…” Isaiah 60:19 So as plants turn to catch the light, we should turn our lives towards the Savior Jesus Christ and towards more kindness, service and watching out for one another. Mahalo.
Some artists have a hard time finding something to paint. I find paintings all around me. There is so much beauty in this world. All you have to do is take the time to see it. You learn something from sitting out in the wind and hearing the ocean waves. You find out about place. You see colors you wouldn’t see from a photo. You smell the moisture in the air. Painting is a great way to capture a place. The above watercolor sketch is from my watercolor sketch book. Its a place to keep all those memories.
So now you’ve found the beauty, its time to be grateful. Grateful for eyes to see. Grateful for so much subtlety of color and grateful for brushes and paint. Grateful for family and friends to share it with. Beauty is all around us no matter where we are. We just need to take the time to pause, and see.
Finding my Seasider hat buried in a black canvas bag when I cleaned my art studio..
I’m glad that art studio sounds better than Art room.
I’m glad for two eyes that see sunshine streaming through morning windows.
I’m thankful for ideas of paintings that jump into my head like buttered popcorn.
I can smile at sweet friends, friends who paint, friends who talk of letting the natural color of their hair grow out, friends that pick me up for sharing an omelet and French toast at the small corner cafe and say they will pay and then exclaim, “How much? They didn’t charge us this much last time.”
Phone calls from a student in Hawaii who wants to ask questions on how I engage students during my demos.
Being able to answer questions on how I engage students in my watercolor class demo’s.
Family who love me and a Heavenly Father who loves me and for the opportunity to love others.