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.
I’ve always loved telling stories. Whether it is with a nice watercolor painting or as I create characters for children’s books, it’s the telling of the story with art that I love. I’ve bounced back and forth between the two. The children’s book illustrations have detail. The watercolor paintings can be big enough to allow freedom of brushstrokes. It’s a good combination.
The one has influenced the other. When I’ve been working on a picture book, things seem to come into my life that have an influence on the book. The elements and principals of art can improve both children’s book illustration and watercolor paintings. Things learned in a watercolor workshop end up influencing my illustrations. Imagination is used for both. It’s very satisfying to start with a picture you see in your head and watch it appear on your sketch book and become refined with watercolor.
When we left for our mission to Hawaii, I had a couple of paintings at a show down in St. George. My daughter picked them up when the show was over. They leaned against the wall in my studio. We returned to our home in the middle of covid and we were still teaching some online classes for BYU Hawaii so I never unboxed the paintings. I couldn’t remember which painting was in the big cardboard box. Like meeting an old friend after a long parting, this painting emerged from hiding. We put it up above our fireplace. One of the fun things about creating paintings is that there is a variety of paintings to display In your home while they are waiting for just the right buyer.
It’s also fun to see paintings and prints find a new home. As artists we create to share our love for the beauties in this world and how we see them. It is nice that they can bring joy to others. Sometimes they send me pictures to show me how they’ve framed them. Thanks to Kris for finding a new home for the giclee print “On The Road To Emmaus.” Here’s a picture of how it’s looking.
Usually I’m not afraid to put paint to paper but at the Sarah Yeoman Workshop, I stood there looking at my painting and debated. I’ve read to all my students the quotes from the “Art and Fear” book, but I had just put down a free watercolor painting of peonies and a nice, free rendering of the mason jar. I was pleased with the results. It was on a half sheet of watercolor paper. Everything had gone right from the sketch to the color choices. Now Sarah was asking me to put in a background in a way I had never done before and I was worried my whole painting would end up in the toilet. There is that moment of hesitation …………and then I went for it.
I couldn’t be more pleased with the results. Courage, experimenting, and learning things from other amazing artists can cause a continued growth in your watercolor painting. Membership in a Society of other artists can provide opportunities for workshops and demos. The workshop with Sarah Yeoman was provided through the Utah Watercolor Society. Sarah gave it her all. Even though it was over zoom, there was a connection with the teacher and the students. The background added emotion and freedom to the painting.
So painting watercolors is a part of being an artist. Sometimes you have to be in front of the camera. My paintings were hung at City Hall while I was gone with my husband on our mission to BYU Hawaii. I was supposed to talk about my art at a meeting where the city was invited. But due to covid restrictions West Bountiful City recorded the story behind some of my paintings. Here is the link for that video:
I remember in junior high loving the way watercolor went on the paper. I was painting flowers and the way the paint mixed with the water was beautiful. My use of watercolor was sporadic. Later on I thought that watercolor would make brighter illustrations for children’s books than the guache I was using. So off to a watercolor class.
There are a lot of rules with watercolor and some myths out there like watercolor is so unforgiving. When I took that first watercolor class, the paint was not doing what I wanted it to do. My painting didn’t look like I wanted it to look like. It was frustrating. At that point if I had listened to my frustrations, I would have quit the painting and missed out on years of joy discovering watercolor.
Sometimes the best way to learn something is to dive in and use the medium. That’s what I did with watercolor, I dived in and learned how the paint mixed with the water. I learned what happened if I added more water and I saw what happened when the paint was added fresh to a wet spot on the painting. I have a lot of tools in my watercolor toolbox. Mostly I learned from the day to day painting of the things that grabbed my attention. So now do I know everything there is to know about watercolor? No. That is the joy of a creative life. There is always something else to learn.
Robert Henri, in the book “The Art Spirit” said, “The technique learned without a purpose is a formula which when used, knocks the life out of any ideas to which it is applied.”
So there is a lot of self direction in art. What you learn from a critique should lead you in a direction of self improvement. A lot of the changes in my art have come about from a serendipitous popping of ideas into my head. All those things that I learn are bubbling around in my head just waiting for me to pull them out and use them. So when I recognize a problem with my art, it’s like when I recognize a problem in my life, I try to see what I need to do to become a better, kinder person. I say to myself, what if I tried this? Would this make me a better artist? What if I didn’t have negative thoughts about the neighbors’s pet pig who is eating my butternut squash out of my garden, would that make me a better person? Life and art is a journey of discovery.
There is great joy to be found in the journey. Another quote from Robert Henri, “Order is perceived by the man with a creative spirit. It is achieved by the man who sincerely attempts to express himself and thus naturally follows organic law.”
What are you doing to creatively attempt to express yourself?
I was able to pick up a few paintings that had been on display at the West Bountiful City Offices while I was gone on my mission. They have been under quarantine for the past few months so nobody was able to get out and see them. I had not seen them for a year and a half. It was like meeting old friends after a long absence.
We get into the heat of painting and look at our pictures with such a critical eye. It’s nice to see them afresh and just enjoy them and take joy in the fact that you painted them and they are better than you remember. If you would like to take a look at five of these paintings, you can check out the video on my you tube channel. I found the lady above in Durango, Colorado. Here is the link: “Looking at 5 Watercolors”
So “Ohana Hands” won Best of Show at the Utah Watercolor Societies Small Works Show. It is hanging with the show at the Ogden Depot. I hope you get a chance to go up and check out the show. It hangs until February 26th. I’m throwing up a bit of confetti.
Also below is the list of things that I talked about at the Utah Watercolor Society’s Monthly Meeting. I had a great time critiquing paintings with Kristi Grussendorf. Here are some things to think about when you are getting a critique, whether it’s for your illustrating, writing or paintings.
How to handle a Critique Without losing your Cool
Whether you are a writer, illustrator or artist critiques can be beneficial for your progress and improvement. They can help you see things that you wouldn’t see otherwise. Here are a few hints.
Spend more time listening than commenting. Don’t spend so much time making excuses that you lose the benefits of the critiquers comments.
Take notes so you can go over the comments later when the emotions are not so high.
Be prepared that the comments might bring up something that you were not aware of.
Be prepared that the comments might bring up something that you were aware of but didn’t want to address.
Be prepared for more work and ideas to use on future paintings.
Do not let the critique discourage you from future painting and creating. Use it as a trampoline to bounce you positively into the next project.
Be prepared that you might not agree with the critique but they might be seeing something that is wrong with your painting that if you take the time to look carefully, will lead you to see something that needs to be fixed that might effect what they are seeing and saying.
Go over you notes later. Don’t just leave them in your sketchbook but bring them out and go over them. Learn from them. 9, Take joy in creating and don’t listen to your inner critic that can tell you the negative things about the creative process and your ability. Improvement comes from diving in and continuing to paint and create. 10. Number 10 because you don’t want to end up on number 9.
I love being the passenger as our car is driving across the country. There is a never ending variety of views that whip past the car window. When I’m passing through an interesting area I’ll pull out my camera and take random shots. I never know what I have until I get a chance to download the photos and check them out on my laptop. Sometimes the area is just right. The lighting is just right. I can capture a snippet of life that lies just off the road. There is the home or farm outbuildings, the evidence of the people who live there. I love doing these 6” by 18” watercolors of life just off the road.
Here are three of those watercolors.
“Flat Top Mountain” 6”x18” framed watercolor on watercolor paper
“Storm Clouds Over Illinois Farm” 6”x18” watercolor on watercolor paper.
“Lone Tree in a Green Pasture” 6”x18” watercolor on watercolor paper.
Some of the most asked questions in workshops and demonstrations I teach are “What brush are you using?” “What paints are you using?” “What paper are you using?” One of the nice things about art is that with a pencil or pen and a piece of paper or sketch book you can take your art anywhere. You can pull them out and discreetly practice capturing the scene before you. You can focus on value, motion, humor. You can sketch ideas that are floating around in your head. You can work on design principles. You can work on story ideas.
Thumbnails and details
Elder Gong and his wife Susan gave a devotional for young adults in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. Sister Gong quoted President Nelson: “Education is the difference between wishing you could help other people and being able to.” That’s what practicing art does for me. The more I practice and immerse myself in art, the more likely I am to put the ideas in my head down on paper in some sort of a pleasing manner. Elder Gong said, “Art inspires new ways to see God’s goodness.” Those ideas and the ability to see the beauty around us has become a life-long pursuit for me.
‘Here is the link for the devotional if you want to watch it. Devotional
What emotions the shepherds must have felt that night. It was a night no different than any other. They are out doing what they’ve always done, watching their flocks. The quiet sounds of night surround them. Then the heavens light up and they are filled with fear. They were seeing things that they’d never seen before. They were told to fear not. Did the fear go away at once or did it slowly dissipate as the message from the angel filled them with wonder.
I’ve been in the middle of the Tabernacle Choir when they sang a Christmas Song, the music surrounded my whole being. did the music that night from the Heavenly Choir wrap their shepherd souls and fill them with hope.
I love Brene’ Brown’s quote on hope: “hope isn’t an emotion, it’s a way of thinking.” She talks about Hope happens when we set realistic goals, we can figure out how to achieve those goals, and we believe in ourselves enough to join the struggle.
The shepherds had hope. It motivated them to go see. What an opportunity that night to go see. It changed their lives. They left praising God.
What will your hope motivate you to do this year? Let’s bring some joy and kindness into our little corner of the world.