Last week’s Life Book lesson was one I really struggled with. I had never taken a lesson with Lindsay Weirich so it was great to see a different approach to art demonstrated. The lesson involved using pearly paint and gouache. I have a little of the former but none of the latter so I improvised and used other media. Stenciling was involved and I suck at stencilling but I decided to force myself to not skip that stage. It started well enough with a pleasing blend of blue, pink, and yellow pearl paint; but then it entered an ugly phase and – when I tried to rescue it – into an even uglier phase until it looked like sparkling sewage. It took layer after layer of paint and more time and effort than I actually had available to try and eliminate the glittery poop stage and haul it screaming and kicking back into something half decent. Then, frankly, I was all out of time and all out of willingness to invest in this one piece. Time to stop flogging the dead horse and move on to new and less poopy pastures.
Thanks to a weekend that for once was not crammed with activities or commitments, I found time to work in my colour themed art journal. I am still in the black/monochrome pages and this time I wanted to play around with using the black and white of printed text. Readers who follow both my blogs might recognise the model for this page as being a drawing – titled Aubrey because of Aubrey Beardsley – from my series of 100 Faces. I thought it would be interesting to see if I could recreate a face I had illustrated in ink and watercolour using acrylic paint and collage. There is definitely more precision in the ink drawn version but I am not displeased with the way this mixed media piece turned out. I do like the hair made of book pages so that was a worthwhile experiment.
Last week’s Life Book lesson was taken by Donna Downey. It was all about being playful with colours and mark making, and layering with paints and shapes, to create a colourful and abstract piece. I managed to keep my control freakery in check and let my inner child go wild with colour but I maybe got a bit carried away and the result was a tad messy. I also struggle with creating abstract art because I get too stuck in my head and end up with strong visual ideas that lend themselves to more representational or figurative art. That was precisely what happened with this piece too. I, therefore, just went with it and produced a more whimsical female figure whose form contains the shapes of a whale’s tail, leaves, and a heart while the space around her head contains two birds. I always enjoy painting negative spaces so that the background becomes the positive image so that was the element of this lesson that really appealed to me and made me feel relaxed.
It may have taken me a week to view and then work through the final lesson of the Let’s Face It course but I got it done and, therefore, despite having skipped a few lessons, have completed the course. I feel a mixture of accomplishment and relief. I feel relief because trying to stay on top of all my art commitments while solo parenting and working has become a bit of a source of pressure, another thing to cram into my already bulging schedule. But mostly I feel like I have achieved something by undertaking and completing this course over the past 12 months. When I compare the faces I was painting in January with those I am painting now, I definitely think there has been an improvement in my ability to construct faces – still a lot of progress to be made but definite steps in the right direction. I have also learned a few more techniques and approaches with painting and mixed media to keep experimenting with and developing.
This then is my response to the final lesson of the course. I thought I would share a few progress shots since I actually remembered to take some for once. I can see that the eyes started off slightly different sizes, a flaw that was magnified as I added each new layer so that finally the eyes have ended up pretty wonky. Otherwise, however, I am fairly happy with this painting so I get to end on a positive note.
Last week’s Let’s Face It lesson was taken by Kara Bullock and amazingly – thanks to the Thanksgiving holiday – I was able to start and complete the piece within the span of one day. The purpose of the lesson was to draw a full figure in a seated position with the face and hands particularly prominent in the piece. As I am prone to do, I deviated from the lesson a little in order to a) save time and b) make it more me, but I used most of the techniques demonstrated in the lesson and kept to the spirit of the lesson. I decided my figure looked like an acrobat as a rest so that then suggested the bold colour scheme. I like the combination of red and turquoise so I was happy to break out that colour palette again. While the nose got bigger and broader the more I worked on it and the hand is rather underdeveloped, I am fairly pleased with how this painting turned out – especially because I got it done and dusted in one day.
The only upside to my husband working out of town all week is that it freed up my evenings for some art time which meant that for the first time in what feels like ages I actually managed to complete two art lessons, one for each of the year long courses I am enrolled in. The Let’s Face It lesson was taken by Annie Hamman and was about painting a figure with hands in addition to painting the face. Hamman’s approach to painting is very, well, painterly. It’s fascinating to watch the way she builds up and refines that layers of paint so that precise features gradually emerge. I, however, am not remotely painterly in the way I handle paint. Despite having had regular practice since I first started exploring mixed media, I still have super limited skills when it comes to handling, manipulating and applying acrylic paint. Try as I might, therefore, I just could not refine the paint layers adequately enough so I diverged from the lesson (having already skipped a collage layer to save time) in order to use some other media to add the detail to the face and fingers. Looking for the positives, I am fairly pleased with how the hands turned out in this painting. I think the scale and angles read as correct. I took the photo of the finished painting with my phone rather than my DSLR so in reality the flesh tones are a bit warmer and the disc behind the head is metallic blue. My 11 year old commented that she looked like a female version of Jack Frost so I decided to go with that interpretation and title this piece Frost.
By taking short cuts, I actually managed to find time for two art lessons from last week. It also helped that my kids had friends over to play so they were occupied and I could find a chunk of time in which to sit at my kitchen table and get arty and make a start on this piece.
Last week’s Let’s Face It lesson was taken by Kara Bullock and was more practice in drawing the face along with hands. It also involved using white gesso to paint the face and hands in greyscale. That was not something I had done before and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Perhaps that was because it almost felt like drawing with gesso rather than treating the gesso like paint. I do also really like creating pieces that are monochromatic or have very limited palettes so I added very little in the way of colour to the areas of flesh in the figure and face and I kept the background grungy and neutral. The background that Bullock demonstrated in the tutorial was really very different from the one I ended up with but it was the creation of the background that was my major shortcut for this piece so I had to try something new. Her background had been pretty textural and grungy, however, so I tried to generate that same sort of feeling but in a different way. By way of contrast to all the texture and grunge, however, I added a disc of bronze paint behind the figure. I do love to add discs and halos surrounding the figures in my art work. I don’t know why. I just go with it.