Thursday, July 23, 2015

Painting the Crocus

The Crocus trio of paintings were completed yesterday.  This marks six weeks of my adventures in painting on a regular basis.  I am treating this as a real job.  Funny, huh.  That's not sad and depressing at all.  I've spent years putting my artistic ventures last because I love my husband and children.  That's what we women do...we set our interest aside to focus on our family.  It's easy to resist saying no to someone else while saying no to myself.  In the past, when attending art show exhibits, I'd sheepishly say, "I paint watercolors."  Not, "I'm an artist on hiatus while I raise a family."  It was like this, because I was not actively busy with watercolors or any other kind of art, I felt like I wasn't really an artist anymore.  
The mind does crazy, twisted things like that.  I just didn't feel authentic for whatever strange logic that I know doesn't really make sense.

Six weeks!  I have completed six paintings and what a terrific accomplishment.  With an incredible determination, I've been focused on seeing what happens when I schedule creative time into my weekdays.  Over the past two years, I've listened to the Etsy Conversations Podcast and tried to understand how other creatives are making an occupation out of selling their art/craft on Etsy.
It's been very helpful and there's so much to learn.  I haven't jumped in with Etsy yet but as soon as I have a collection of 20-25 new paintings, I'll be ready.

My latest adventures include moldy paint in the palette which added more prep to that day's beginnings.  I have read the advice to refrigerate the covered palette when not using it for a few days.  Each day, when it's time to clean up, I spray the palettes to give them extra moisture and then replace their lids.  The paint stays soft and moist for the next painting session.  The warm summer days are helping mold to grow in these moist places!  Only a few paint wells suffered with mold so the clean up didn't take a huge toll.  I'd never had a problem but now my palettes go to the refrigerator over the weekend.  

I begin my day (after throwing a load into the washing machine)  by tidying up the tables and work areas, mentally organizing my goals for the day.  I look over the three paintings to self-critique and examine where I might need to rework an area.  It's really hard to not be distracted and inadvertently leave the palette uncovered so it dries out while I'm away.   There are some days that only an hour or two gets spent working on paintings with all the interruptions.  I'm trying to be relaxed about that.  Mornings and early afternoons are best for me, while my mind is fresh and uncluttered.  With an effort to repeatedly return to the art table, like the current in the river, I'm trying to work my way back to the paintings.  At times, I get a little frustrated and almost panicky.  Many times before, over the past several years, I made these same goals and then could not maintain the momentum.  I lost the fight to stay with it.  I'm resolved not to lose it this time.  I've got to say I'm just so thankful because my family is supporting and encouraging me.  Otherwise, I know this would not be possible.

My large work area...and dog and camp supplies.

So the crocus are another early spring wildflower.  Mother's Day weekend is usually when we make our first drive up the mountain roads to see how much spring has touched the mountains.  The photo above shows a few snowflakes on the petals .  It's still chilly and warm layers are my favorite way to be ready for a lot of camera work.  My family is such a blessing to me.  They get me like very few people do...and they understand when I need to take ten photos of the same group of flowers.  Every angle and height, the details in focus, because the next time we're here these little beauties will be gone until the following spring.  They vary in hues from blues to violets to pink tints on the edge of magenta.  They have the most delicate fuzz on their petals, stems and leaves.  They remind me of fairy gowns of the finest design in nature.  

I've got to say that overall the most difficult part of translating these flowers with paint are the centers and the stems.  I'd painted them before and now feel a little more comfortable with the added experience.  My paper is 300 lb. Arches hot press...which means it's quite thick and doesn't buckle much while working very wet.  It stays moist longer, giving me more time to work an area.  This paper doesn't break down with scrubbing to lighten areas.  I've heard the advice for years to use only 300 lb. paper but I was so frugal and stayed with 140 lb. paper instead.  I'm convinced and it's making a huge difference in the work I can do.  My main trick to painting the centers is to paint them early, before the petals, protect them with masking fluid so they stay bright.  Just a bit of yellow in these areas, protected from color spreading over them helps so much.  

First steps in these paintings were drawings on tracing paper.  I used several different flowers from more than one photo.  Technology makes this even better.  I'm able to use the Picasa app to pull up photo albums over the wireless connection.  There's not as great a need to print off photos, which cuts a step.  Drawing each individual flower on a separate piece of tracing paper means I can arrange them to my liking.  This time I added a little more interest to one with a little snail shell at the base of the stems.  I'm taking more photos and collecting sticks and other random nature objects to have as part of the compositions.  This worked really well and I'm so glad I tried it; it adds a special little something to the arrangement.

Using the tablet, I can zoom in for more detail.

A helpful resource, Creating Textures in Watercolor by Cathy Johnson

As I am learning this new routine, it's becoming a more comfortable rhythm in my days.  It's been a challenge but I'm hopeful.  The summer does not have as much routine with kids home from school.  Yet, I have had the window of opportunity to try this with flexible scheduling.  It's hard to say what will happen when fall arrives.  The back-to-school adjustments may bring added obstacles.  There's still another month before that happens so I'll keep at it, a stronger resolve to learn how to be an artist everyday.  In the past, I was fortunate to have one Saturday a month to paint all day long.  That was before's hard to imagine how my days were arranged then.  Nearly a decade has gone by and I really miss it.  I don't want just an hour or two, a day here and there, not even a weekend.  Those plans just fall through and I feel frustrated when it's all over.

I'm not sure how I made the leap and stuck with it this far but I find it refreshing and energizing.  Someone once accused me of not really being an artist, believing that I only copied what I watched in how-to videos.  Not even close.  I do watch instructional videos by fantastic artists but that still happens very rarely.  The over 300 photos I captured up in the mountains on July fourth weekend are where it all comes from.  It's the stuff of God's grand nature, where He writes his signature on the smallest little petals.  No matter where you may be, there is something beautiful worth noticing but it may take time to see it.  Look for little reminders of beauty in every moment.  If you aren't watching, you'll miss it.  Take an attitude of expecting an amazing moment.  It's hard enough to strive to keep the blissful joys alive in the everyday routine.  My mind fights to not replay to those critical voices and judgmental accusations.  I've had a rough time silencing them and I'm thriving.  What a shame it would be if I had given in and let it go.

Here are the three completed paintings for adding to my collection for Etsy in the future.  There is no date for this goal.  I'm working at it as I am able, freaking out now and then, but mostly just keeping the best pace possible.  The total is now 19 paintings, with six of those completed this past six weeks.  The last painting I completed was in 2014 and it took over a year and a half.  This means I might be in the life season for making an art career work for me.  Many prayers being said about that one!

Now, onto the Indian Paintbrush!  Today is day two and backgrounds are complete!  Yeah, that's a teaser.  You'll have to stop back for another post when I'm ready to share them with you.

For now, I'm giving myself the goal of a new blog post every Thursday.  So, check back next Thursday.  I'm on a roll!

- Christy

No comments:

Post a Comment