There are times when I want to paint a little more realistically, or I have a definite image or concept in my mind that I want to explore. And then there are times (like last night) where I'm so tired, I don't know what it is I want to paint. Add to that my personal need to vary my subject matter and approach every few days, and it makes for some frustrating late night decision-making.
I knew I wanted to stay away from focusing on a single object (or pair of objects). I thought I might try a place, only I didn't have a clear idea of what I would like to represent in my painting. Then, I sat down in front of my pastels-- the extra soft chalk ones-- and noticed all the beautiful greens. I don't get around to painting much with green, having somewhat of an addiction to blues and purples. I remembered a photo I had taken of a small forest in Germany, which was almost entirely green. I decided I would try it with the oil and chalk combination, and began blocking in grass and trees with the oil pastels, focusing on the overall shapes and shades.
My favorite part of working with oil and chalk together is that point in the painting when I get to set the oils aside and rub in the chalk. I never know what kinds of textures are going to come out, but I know it's going to look interesting. There's plent of room for change, too, since I can go over the colors as much as I want with the chalk, and scratch the surfaces for texture. The result is below.
When we're first learning to make art as children, we hear a few things that become familiar over time. Skies are blue! Tree trunks are brown, leaves are green. Butterflies are supposed to be perfectly symmetrical!
Well, if you take a long look around you, you'll notice that most of that well-intended advice was wrong. Trees can have blue, purple, and green trunks-- or even red or yellow, depending on the lighting. Leaves can be just about any color too! Butterflies, while appearing symmetrical, aren't necessarily so if you look closely. Most of the butterflies I paint from photos have damaged wings, which isn't noticeable to me until I take the time to examine the photos in detail.
So why do we hear the same advice being repeated to kids over the years? What's the first question most people have when a child shows us a painting?
"What is it supposed to be?"
I catch myself asking this with my own kids. I've tried rephrasing it into "What …
After a long hiatus, I'm trying to get back into a more productive cycle, which means more painting, creating lessons and teaching, and taking my work out of the house to events.
It's not that I haven't been busy, but I've gotten sort of sidetracked with fun pursuits like gardening, sewing, and breaking up fights between my children.
I did manage to teach my first paint-sip at the beginning of the year (hauling all of the materials in during a rainstorm that dropped an alarming amount of moisture!) It was a blast, and we did the piece below in about 2 hours:
"Moonlit Valley" Acrylic on Paper
(We used canvas instead of paper, so it would be easy to hang at home.)
If you're in the North San Diego County or Southwest Riverside County area and would like to do a paint-sip event, please contact me for samples and prices at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since it's now April, it's a busy month for all th…
Well, in honor of being almost to my 200th post on this blog, I thought I'd do a series: 10 Reasons to Love Pastels. Since I spend most of my time scrubbing chalk into my paintings, I'll be focusing on chalk pastels for these posts, and how I've learned to love so many things about them over the last (gulp) nine years of painting with soft pastel.
Reason #10 to love soft pastels: they can be blended with water!
Chalk pastels are easy to blend with water, by taking a dry pastel painting (on watercolor paper or canvas) and brushing with water. Click here to see a detailed tutorial on using this method.
You can also paint with wet pastel sticks directly on canvas, or press dry pastel sticks onto a wet paper or canvas to get a unique effect:
There are days when I feel like brushing paint with water, but don't have time to mix colors or clean up brushes. A quick fix for that feeling is to tape down some watercolor paper (or grab a flat canvas) and begin blocking in a pain…