Thursday, February 4, 2016

Begin Again & Try New Things in Watercolor: Poppies

Beautiful Red Poppies

The past few weeks have been spent easing back into the art process with reference photos of poppies.  Winter here continues and I am content to be inside, comfortable and warm.  Even so, I do feel a bit of cabin fever.  The Gurney's seed catalog came this week.  In a few months it will be time to start planning the garden.  So while winter carries on, I'm focusing on garden beauties.  Their petals are as delicate as tissue paper, sunlight defines each bit of crinkle in the petals.

Light - dews- breezes - bloom - and freshness; not one of which has yet been perfected on the canvas of any painter in the world.    - John Constable

In all my nearly 30 years with art (ouch, that's a while!), there are several things I have avoided doing.  Skipping over a step in the planning and executing process is not the best habit to start.  In college, I avoided Art History 101.  I was able to take several other classes like photography and drawing.  Without the Art History, I could not move on to take pottery or painting.  Foolish me!

Advice to that college student me:  Go for it anyway!

Well, the other thing I've avoided is the thumbnail sketch.  It's not a sketch of a thumbnail.  It's just a small sketch (think business card size) with the basic composition, shapes and values.  I've dreaded it and gotten by all these years without it.  But I've wondered how following through and doing it could help me improve my work.

I finally followed through and made myself have a go at the thumbnail sketches.  It felt a little uncomfortable.  The sketches themselves turned out fine by me.  The transition from sketch to placing drawing on watercolor paper has felt it's a new habit that won't feel old hat for a while.

It will come.  Just be patient.

The first painting went okay.  It's wasn't as smooth a process as I'd like, but I was happy to have it complete.  It felt like I was getting to know the shape of the flower petals and how the centers are best described.  I've looked at how others paint poppies; while I really enjoyed browsing on Pinterest for other artists' take on the flower, I need to find my method and style for it.

It's got to be my own style whether I love it or not.  It's a place to begin.  Again.

Christy Sheeler Artist 2016

In each painting that has multiple flower heads, there's one that I really love and the others are still not quite there yet.  Watercolor is not easily tamed.  It's uncontrollable and unpredictable.  I know how to scrub back out the areas that don't feel quite right.  I get it back to almost white and then begin again.

Copyright 2016 Christy Sheeler Artist, All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2016 Christy Sheeler Artist, All Rights Reserved.

With some thought on the subject, I think I have begun to rely too much on photos.  Maybe it's always been like that.  Now I'm feeling it's time to grow past it.  I've caught on with several artists mentioning to put the photo aside and use the thumbnail sketch to guide.  This is hard!  I may need to ease into this over several months' time.

Never stop learning.

I'm realizing that my perfectionist ways are holding me from moving into trying a fresher approach with my style.  I've always longed to get the feel for abstract painting but it seems foreign to me.  It would be very beneficial and healing; that's what I feel somehow.

Perfection is not achievable.  Remember your vision.  

Copyright 2016 Christy Sheeler Artist, All Rights Reserved.

I've felt a sense of frustration and irritation as the last two pieces come together.  They are venturing away from my usual tight and detailed style.  They even seem to breaking some rules with composition.  I'm kind of liking that.  While I've desired to be more loose and fresh with my brush, when it seems to be happening before my eyes... Well, my reaction is not joyful.  I'm relieved that I set them aside for a day.  Looking on them now, their effect on me has changed.  My thoughts are that maybe I do like what they are becoming.  Crazy?  Not in my shoes.  An artist is his/her own worst critic.  That is a fact.  Thankfully, my husband pulls me back to calm and better reason!  Someday, he'll be my dependable coordinator of all the extra details, you know, when I'm selling these babies like hotcakes.

Do not begrudge what you've been longing for all this time.

Copyright 2016 Christy Sheeler Artist, All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2016 Christy Sheeler Artist, All Rights Reserved. 

Copyright 2016 Christy Sheeler Artist, All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2016 Christy Sheeler Artist, All Rights Reserved.

There are four separate paintings in process right now...none are completely finished.  A few have small minor touches of detail to be added.  A few have more definition in the leaves and seed pods coming.  I'm struggling to be satisfied with areas that really bug me!  Oh, well.  I love it all just the same.

So, here are my ramblings for the week!  These are the thoughts that run through my head, keeping me challenged to move out of my comfort zone again.

On a side note:  I'm getting my work ready to sell as Premium Giclee Prints.  Paypal, Buy It buttons and more!!!  I spent Tuesday working through the details.  It's all new and fuzzy but I'll get there.  I've got my list of goals for 2016 and now I'm moving right along!  Thank you for joining me on my adventures!

What advice have you been giving yourself for 2016?  I'd like to hear about it!!!

Now, it's time to go pick up my brush.


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