The first full lesson of Life Book was taken by Tamara Laporte. As with previous years, the first lesson focused on creating a whimsical figure using mixed media techniques. The concept for this figure was that she was to be holding a star. I messed around for a while with a star shape between the hands but I just couldn’t get it to work in harmony with the figure. Perhaps because my figure is not whimsical enough, the star just did not look right. I, therefore, resolved it by creating a golden glow between the hands. I then added more gold around the piece with a bit of spatter and a halo around the head. Although there is room for improvement, I think this is my best Life Book first week lesson so far. That is a good way of measuring my progress with mixed media techniques.
There were two bonus lessons this week for Life Book. The first was a sort of pep talk by Jeanne Oliver. My take away from her talk was that it made me think about setting my goals for next year, about decompressing in order to make more space for myself, about prioritising creativity within my free time, and it was also a reminder that acts of self care ultimately help me continue investing in my husband and kids – one cannot pour from an empty cup after all – so I need to quit feeling guilty for choosing art over dusting.
The second bonus lesson was taken by Tamara Laporte and was about using a more painterly approach. This is something I struggle with. Frankly, learning to paint (as opposed to draw) has been a steep learning curve for me. While I have come on in leaps and bounds from where I started – and I no longer state that I CAN’T paint – I still tend towards a more illustrative style of art. That is my default, my comfort zone, and is what I have the most successful outcomes with. However, I am always up for a challenge and it is by pushing myself out of my comfort zone that I grow the most. I decided to give myself an additional challenge of painting a face with a darker skin tone than I usually paint.
I have had this idea for a while for hair to act as a sort of halo. I have been using metallic discs and elements in quite a few of my paintings and a a few people have commented that these paintings are reminiscent of icons. Since this Life Book lesson was pretty open to possibilities, it seemed like a good time to try out my idea. I must admit that I found it tricky to work with the darker skin tones, specifically finding a midtone to balance the highlights and shadows. Using the more painterly approach, I was blending the paint on the paper and that meant I had to work quickly. That was good for getting me out of my head a bit, getting me to work a bit more instinctively than I normally would, but it was a contributing factor in my struggle to get the skin tones right. I still like the idea of this piece but I need to try it again.