Monday, January 25, 2010

Black & Blue... from all the Hitting.

I'm my own worst critic. I knew this to be true before I started this new adventure. This self-critical part of my personality probably added to the fear I felt in starting for so many years. I guess I had hoped that in the last 6 years of embracing my inner artist (making the designer wedding cakes) I had logged some personal growth. Well, let me tell you now... there may be some kindling, leaves and branches but certainly there are NO logs to be seen here. I don't seem to allow myself the necessary time to be a learner or student. I expect perfection right out of the gate. I require each painting that I do, starting at #1, to be quality work. I know this is logically STUPID. Logic doesn't seem to help, though. I can talk calmly to my inner critic all I want, she just looks back petulantly at me and sticks out her tongue, telling me our work sucks rocks. Ya, she's mature like that. And she makes my inner artist feel bad and cry. I wish all these people inside my head would just get along and make friends. Either that or keep their opinions and feelings to themselves and shut up.

I have started 5 paintings so far. Two of them are finished, one is half done, one is not done but I don't know how to complete it and one is a hot mess, covered in a holy exploding frisket bottle. (for the uninitiated, frisket is a masking liquid that you cover bits of your paper with to keep it white.) I was supposed to do 12 small paintings of a thing, like a leaf or a flower, to help me learn about how the paint and water move across the paper. I chose sticks... first mistake. Painting #1 is of the tree in my backyard... second mistake. I started with the tree first... third mistake. Three strikes, you're OUT. (Please forgive the terrible photograph. The shadow on the right is my fault.)

Here's the breakdown of my mistakes:

  1. Sticks are too complicated and don't allow the simplicity and flow like a leaf would. 
  2. I over complicated the entire exercise by not just doing what I was asked. I added backgrounds and other plants which made me lose what I was supposed to be learning from the exercise.
  3. One has to start from the lightest color first and the background first then layer on top because you can't remove foreground stuff to paint the background after. Duh, Jenn.
I'm glad I made the above mistakes, though. I learned that I really don't want to paint scenes, at least right now I don't.

So, I'm breaking the rules already and painting washes in color because I want to learn how to move paint around. I will probably switch to painting leaves, too. :o) Shirley Schmidt suggested I paint leaves. I liked sticks, stubborn as I am. Props to the teacher, she was right. I'm listening now.

Ok, painting #2. (Please ignore the lime green painted fingernails peeking into the photograph, lol.) I just wanted to fool around with color. I did find exactly what Shirley warned I would find with the student grade Cotman paints. They do get murky more easily and don't have as much pigmentation as compared to the artist quality ones. I knew this going in but hoped for the best. I kind of like this one. I'm not so unsatisfied with it as to be abysmally disappointed in my artistic talent. I must admit though, this painting made me decide to get the Holbein paints as soon as humanly possible, lol. In fact, painting this made me yearn for the new paints. I found that to get any saturation of color I had to use the watercolor paint pure, adding no water at all. This then, doesn't allow for as much gradation and nuance.

I'm gonna be either really generous or really stupid and let you see the two paintings in progress. Paint #3 is, once again, a color wash. I'm just playing, trying to create a cohesive abstract. I got frustrated and didn't know where to go with it. Mom, in her infinate wisdom, suggested that if I try to paint something, like a subject, maybe I'd have more luck and know where to go. GOOD SUGGESTION, Mom! :o) I luuurrrve her, did I mention?

Painting # 4, called "How Water Feels". I'm only half way through. I have to figure out how to add depth and some kind of focus. I don't just want the whole piece of paper to be the same or similar pattern. There needs to be a subtle place that you want to look first and the paint around that supports that "subject". If that makes any sense. I guess I mean I need to find a way to convey "water" more intensely in one place on the paper so that is where the eye falls first. Kind of like the "little cottage" in a painting of a farmland grassy scene. Let me give an example using an abstract I have recently fallen in love with.

This painting is by Ricki Mountain and is called "Summer of Love". With this piece one's eye tends to go to the large red flower then the word "Love". If those elements weren't there the eye would not know where to land and would skitter around the painting. By the way, I linked the title of this painting to where I found it. It's on sale at a cool site called Art Wall Online (dot com). I actually dreamed (a few weeks ago) of showing my future work like this... by drawing a scene in pen & ink and placing frames on the virtual walls so I could fill the frames with my paintings. It was startlingly cool to see it in reality and working so effectively. Go and check out the uber-cool site where artists can display and sell their artwork!

Maybe the dream was a premonition that someday I would think my paintings were good enough to be displayed and sold. I sure hope so. I'd be thrilled to sell on a site like this or Deviant Art or on Etsy. Did you notice on my sidebar at the bottom I added "Future Etsy Seller"?? Ya, this is me being confident and telling that inner critic to go jump. Hehehe. Besides, I love the graphic and I set up my Etsy store already. I used the same name as my blog, JustAddWaterSilly. Maybe I'll sell some hand crocheted scarves or something in the meantime. I make a rocking scarf, I have great color sense, you know. ;o)

I read something on an artist's site in the last few days that has stuck with me. He was commenting on the expansion and contraction of one's belief in one's own talent. In the time of expansion the artist feels like they're drugged on happiness. They see all the possibilities, learning and talent going forward. Then, in a time of contraction, they feel scared and weepy, unsure if they'll ever be good enough. They feel as though their dream is slipping inextricably away. I totally relate to these musings. I've been up and down in these new few weeks of 2010 like a 'coaster junkie at Magic Mountain. Last night I nearly cried myself to sleep. I begged God to send me a sign, just a little one like the coyote holds up when he falls off a cliff. I felt really defeated and alone. This was definitely the contraction stage.

Today I'm ok. Not up, not down. I also decided that the way to combat my inner critic is to punish it, hehehe. The one way to punish a critic is to ignore them and do what you wanted all along. :o) That's why I'm publishing my first fairly pathetic paintings.
Artist - 1
Critic - 0
Until next time, peoples. I'm off to paint leaves. ;o)

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1 comment:

  1. love your experiments with watercolour, you're really talented

    samurajen - swap bot


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