Painting Progress

I realize I don’t really care much for being a beginner! I just want to already know how to do something, not fight my way through making things that don’t look like they did in my head or make the mistakes. Please know I am shaking my head at myself as I write this, somewhat chagrined and chuckling.

I’m sure there are people out there who revel in the beginning part, rising up to learn the new skill, mastering said skill and the moving on to a new beginning.

While working out these ‘scratches and blobs’ I try not to compare to both the images in my head that I would love to paint and those whom I admire. Such as Stephanie Pui-Mon Law who is prolific. And has been painting regularly since she was a little girl.

Comparison is the thief of joy. – Theodore Roosevelt (attributed)

With those words in my mind I showed up today. I opened a new book but didn’t want to ‘ruin’ it, dug through my paints, felt the resistance, felt the tug of doing nothing as usual but pushed through it. Especially once I discovered a pad I tore out of a kit. It has no cover, the edges are a little ragged – just right for ‘ruining’! (see the first picture below)




Exercising My Creative Chops

In an effort to keep myself in the creative habit, I bought the book Creating Art at the Speed of Life: 30 Days of Mixed-Media Exploration. It’s 30 exercises for 30 days to just create. Will I do them all in a row? I doubt it – I have noticed not only distinct lack of routine in my life but also a distinct lack of being able to create any! (Well, I do feed my cat wet food twice a day so I guess it’s a start.)

I also struggle with ‘playing’. Just sitting down and doing something for no other reason than to do it and see what comes of it. I find it interesting that someone who has created art in fits and starts her whole life has trouble playing. But then that might be why it’s in fits and starts. I think so much about how something will be before I even do anything which can really cause issues when something doesn’t go the way you want. Like the first exercise in the book…

Exercise 1: Color Wheel
Exercise 1: Color Wheel

First, just sitting down and getting started was (as usual) a process. I looked at the exercise, this is stupid. Why am I even going to do these? I probably won’t even like them.I looked at my journal. It wasn’t the right journal. Did I want to do basic exercises in this journal and ‘ruin’ it? (You know – ruin the book with this and this) Slide over to computer. Is Michael’s still open, to get a new sketch book? Ponder. Sigh. Really? We’re still doing this? I go get the coffee filter and sit down. Was going well… until violet. Ugh. Mud. I mean I made 4 or 5 attempts at this. Well, this is why we are practicing so I painted the violet slot the violet I got to and that was that.

The page background started out a nice soft yellow but I had all this paint from the violet violence and I started using it on a different page just to use it while the wheel dried but still had so much paint! So I slapped it on the page I was using for the wheel and was a little disappointed at my rash decision: now the PAGE was muddy! Ugh. I had some blue that hadn’t been used so I through some white in and slapped it on the page to try to help out the situation (did I just play?!). Better.

In the book, the author had just written ‘color wheel’ around the wheel but never really liking to do things exactly the way it says to do it or suggests doing it, I looked up quotes on color and found the one by Francis Bacon that I used.


Do I love it? No. I find it a little embarrassing actually that I couldn’t make purple. But is it done? Yes. 1 down, 29 to go.

First drops of paint

Often the fear of not knowing what to do or the fear of doing something wrong stops us in our tracks and keeps us from starting. If we can let go of this fear, we open ourselves up to a much larger world of expression – a world where anything is possible.
– Flora Bowley, Brave Intuitive Painting

I wasn’t sure where to start. I’ve wanted to ‘know how’ to paint I think my whole life. I’ve certainly said “If I could paint what is in my head” often enough. I get overwhelmed by the idea of creating a whole image and then do nothing which just leaves a void and a continued longing.

In the most recent issue of Art Journaling, Winter 2014, there was a spread by a woman who had a lifelong unrequited love affair with watercolors. Her attempts at using them were disappointing and unfulfilling but one day she decided she was going to master this medium and put all her other mediums away. “The materials were simple: watercolors, a waterrush, black ink pens, and a Moleskin diary.”

Spread from Art Journaling, Winter 2014. Artist: Ginn Magante Barber

She set out just using one or two colors, feeling things out. The images in the spread were simple but lovely and looking at them and reading her words I thought ok, this I can do. This is simple, just to start. And I will be doing, not just wanting.

Different reds
Different reds