Paint Whimsy

When a painting asserts itself, there is no fighting with it.  Let it come forward.  As far-fetched or unrealistic, other-worldly or alien as it might be…let it come forward.  Are those antennas on top of her head?  Sobeit then.  She gets to have antennas.  The subconscious gets to have her field day.  The artist obeys.

That’s what I’m feeling when I look at this painting today.  I can’t remember my exact state of being when she presented herself.  Or what was going on in my life at the time.  Her expression captivates me today.  I think it’s because she has both whimsy and looks as if what she sees is hopeful.

The caption could read “Humankind, despite their ignorance, greed and selfish ways, is going to be saved…from themselves”  Perhaps because they have enough redeeming qualities or something greater has had compassion for them.

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Then again, she could be a fairy roaming through the meadows.  What does she spy?  Some new delight!

Whoever she is, whatever part of my subconscious she arose from, I’m sure there is more.  Yours too!  What’s hiding in there?  In you?

The thing about whimsical art is that in creating it, there is freedom for the artist.  She/he doesn’t have to measure up to any other standards of fine art.  The artist gets to be surprised as a painting evolves.  She is open to whoever shows up on the canvas.  And whatever direction it wants to go.  She experiments–for that is what play is.  It is serious business, this type of play.

So don’t delay, get down to the business of play!  What might you discover?

Female Buddha

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Splashes of acrylic inks on a 140# weight watercolor sheet of paper.  Purposeful play to see how the ink flows when sprayed with water.  What images emerge from this play?

She emerged.  A feminine buddha angel in prayer.  She stayed like this, filed away in a pile of other such paintings for a few years.  Then, one day, the time had come.  I chose her from the pile and gave her a face.  I added a complementary background color.  Studying the color wheel, learning how to use and apply it to a work in progress is yet another learning experience.  Primary colors, then secondary colors, finally tertiary colors.  Complementary colors, analogous, monochromatic, triads, tetrads, etc.  Then, there are hues, values, tints, tones and shades.  I had no idea!  So much to learn.

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Facial expression is another practiced technique.  Sometimes, the angle of the eyebrows can create an expression of alarm, surprise or worry.  The intensity of the eyes, the poise of the mouth–there are many other tools that help to give expression to a face .  I don’t know enough about this to claim expertise.  I would say that the feeling behind this piece fits with the energy of the painting.  A contemplative face showing some concern.  Before the facial features were emphasized, there was a solemnity and sense of deep quiet.

Then, you could read this differently than I do.

 

 

That Feeling of Spring

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Splashes of color,
drips, droplets, dabs,
sprinkles, sprays
–marks, translucents,
opaques, frivolity, whimsy,
abstract, realism,
imagination, fantasy,
figures disappearing
into a mist…

When making art, you can create what you desire, design and allow.
The artist can choose to be detailed, intricate and precise.  The artist can choose to be abstract as heck and expressive.  And there is everything in between.
That is why I believe that

EVERYONE IS AN ARTIST!

As I also believe that everyone has a hidden poet (because everyone has a voice), I also believe that everyone has a hidden artist.  Perhaps one who has been shamed into
hiding, but she’s there just the same, waiting to be invoked, invited, induced to come out and play.

That is what this painting was to me.  This was painted at the beginning of my discovery of art as a possible way to express myself.  Playing on Aquabord, a substrate that was new to me, the paint flowed in a surprising way.  Yes, substrates make a difference as to how the paint behaves.  Substrate is the surface on which the artist paints.  There are many types of substrates these days!  Sometimes, any substrate works.  I’ve painted on gessoed cardboard.

With so many online opportunities to learn while playing–that is the perspective to take when you are beginning to paint or painting after many years of not painting.  Or at any level of experience.  Play and learn.  Make many mistakes.  And carry on playing, learning and practicing.  Like any practice, you have to do it daily.  Best to plan it into your day.

 

Calico Cat

I remember painting this piece–the discovery of images, shapes, making designs and loving the colors, the whimsical cat and dog that appeared.  I was following the flow of what wanted to be seen next.  I was certainly a beginner when I painted this piece.  I would do it differently today.  And yet, there are people who really love it.  So it sits in a little gift shop waiting for the just right person to adopt it and take it home.

I see the naivete of myself as an artist.  But this piece, any piece, is important to one’s development as an artist.  Recognizing images, finding ways to enhance those images, blocking out images with color, learning about design, placement of objects in relation to one another and so much more.  Each is a necessary step in the learning process.  We can’t know something before we know it in life or in making art.

CatFish copy

I recollect that I painted the initial background in an abstract way.  Following the intuitive painting process taught by Flora Bowley.  But then, as I typically do, I see an image or two and leave abstraction for images.  The cat, the dog, the fishbowl with swimming fishes.  Flowers…this piece was pure play.  I think that comes across to the viewer.

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Today, with the necessity of sheltering in place and social distancing, when I can approach the day as I did this painting, I do better.  I ask myself what the next step is, what can I do in this one moment? Paying attention to my feelings and when I need to pause, step back, observe and wait and let the wisdom of the moment inform my choices.  Then, I’m in conscious conversation with my life as it is right now.

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For those of you who want to explore your creative side, there are many online art classes and teachers.  They typically offer free tutorials on their websites.  A few of my online instructors:  Flora Bowley, Tracy Verdugo, Olga Freeman, Lucy Chen and Galia Alena.  Check out their websites and see if something calls to you.  We start somewhere.

Be safe, stay healthy, find your calm in the midst of the storm.

Wordplay & Stream of Consciousness Fun

Sometimes, the mind wants (and needs) a vacation from all of the hard work it does.  Always trying to figure out that which is complex can be wearing.  Following is a fun exercise, a flight of fancy break for the mind and all of its logic

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Spontaneously choose any letter of the alphabet.

Write as many words (and/or phrases) as you can in one minute that begin with your chosen letter.

Then, list the words, one on each line, to begin a sentence.  Write one sentence using the word on that line.  See if you can establish a flow from one line to the next.  Or not.  No effort…see where your stream of consciousness goes.

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Here’s mine.
I chose the letter “F.”

These were the words or phrases I wrote in one minute’s time:

Frazzled, frayed, fizzle, fleet of foot, fools, frumpy, fried, fiddlestiks, fluffy, flat, fanciful, forgetful, frolic

Then I began each sentence with one of these words or phrases:

Frazzled becomes bedazzled
Frayed is remade
Fizzle sides with sizzle
Fleet of Foot couples with sleight of hand or is it faint of heart?
Fools rush in where wise men fear to tread. Is that because they live with dread(locks)?
Frumpy is better than dumpy–it could be frumpy chic
Fried Fiddlesticks–squid and riddles stick in the brain–loosen up girl
Fluffy or flat–what is–could be pancakes
Fanciful could be a dreamy way to live–Walter Mitty style–does he get
the girl in the end?
Forgetful isn’t the same as wild imagination–it’s just that your mind
dwells in other possibilities.
To frolic is an actual path through life.
Let’s go down by the river and frolic.

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Every thought, word, or phrase can go somewhere or nowhere.  We live without certainty and we die without knowing how we came to be here.

Permission to have a little fun along the way.

(Share what you wrote if you like.)

 

 

Entering the Wilderness with Vivaldi!

Today, rainy and wet outdoors, I decide “It’s a good painting day.”

Many an art instructor suggests that you “paint to music.”  I rev up Spotify to see what is on my playlist.  Ah, Antonio Vivaldi.  I wonder what inspired him?  Brushes and paints in the ready.  Take me away, Antonio!  Immediately I’m immersed in an intense and manic Vivaldi. I go manic on the canvas.  Then, abruptly, the music shifts to lyrical and light.  WHAT!

Do I stay with the manic?  Or do I transition into lyrical as I’m painting?  Or, do I turn the music off completely?  Guess what?  I, that means you too, can do whatever I (or you) want.  I can stay with Vivaldi on speed or adapt to lyrical…or shut the music off entirely.  Vivaldi’s Storm, at least, got this painting off the ground! Right?

 

Painting or Writing Prompt:
What does this music inspire in you?  Take three minutes and listen to this piece with pen and paper nearby.  Afterwards, take your journal and write away!  Let your writing be in direct response to where Vivaldi’s music takes you.  Or grab your paints, a large brush and a piece of 140# weight watercolor paper–a large sheet is the most fun–play Vivaldi’s Storm as you play on the substrate.

 

Art Journaling

I am relatively new to the arena of Art Journaling.transformation.

Why it works…

An art journal is a haven to practice new techniques.  You don’t have to share it with anyone if you don’t want to.  It is your place to play, learn and grow your creative self. It works best if you make a commitment to show up to the pages, regularly.  Within these pages, you have freedom and any theme can be explored.

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I knew that I wanted to create in an art journal, but I didn’t know how to begin.  There are a multitude of online art journaling classes these days.  YouTube videos galore from different artists, introduce the curious to the world of art journaling.  Taking a few of these classes helped me to create the above journal spread at the top of this blog page.

Sometimes, there is the sense that creating art like this is time wasted.  For me, it is time found.  When I steal away and take a creative moment, I find that I’m refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to tackle what is next on the never-ending to-do list. Plus, I may learn a new technique or two that I can integrate into my painting beyond the journal.

Creative Prompt:
My words alone won’t convince you of the benefits found in art journaling.  I invite you to try it for yourself. Below is a youtube video illustrating Ivy Newports Intuitive Painting Process.  The video is three minutes long.  What do you notice about her color choices, the tools that she uses to paint (i.e. a credit card, stamps, stencils, brushes) and how images emerge from the background?  Are you intrigued by this process?

“Nobody Understands Me”–Wayne White

A week ago, I viewed the documentary film, Beauty is Embarrassing.  This film features Wayne White, “an American artist, art director, puppeteer, set designer, animator, cartoonist and illustrator.”  He is a modern day renaissance man, a bit irreverent at times.

One thing that White grew to realize over the course of his career is that the artist’s expectation to be understood is unreasonable.  Art that follows the trend of having to meet the criteria of a select community or of what is currently popular is art that can become stagnant for the artist.

To be in one’s artistic unfolding,  you have to be willing to go where your muse leads.  You don’t have to have a logical reason…other than this is your current curiosity and inspiration as exemplified by the course Wayne White’s life and art has taken.

In viewing this film, it became apparent that in his later years, Wayne White shows up as an artist of impulse…he follows through on the inspiration of the moment.  He allows his creative curiosities–when he doesn’t know how to do something, he studies, practices and learns.

When someone says to me “I don’t have an artistic bone in my body,” what they are really saying is that they are comparing themselves to a standard of art.  Anyone can fall short of that standard and then think “I guess I’m not an artist.”  They have slammed the door on discovering the artist within that wants to COME OUT!

HERE’S YOUR HOMEWORK:
Watch the film Beauty is Embarrassing.
Afterwards, consider what creative expression wants to bubble up in you.  What have you always wanted to try your hand at but considered it a foolish pursuit?  Hey, try it.  If not now, when?

Go and discover!

Art Challenge TV Show

I have been viewing a former TV reality show, “Work of Art,” via YouTube.  The show only lasted for two seasons.  The up-and-coming artists are given a creative challenge–i.e., explore the theme of movement, collaborate with a child’s work of art, visit a new place and paint a portrait of a local person, etc.  The judges choose a winner of the challenge each week and one artist who fails the challenge goes home.

As a viewer, I appreciate the unique and innate creativity that is part of each one of us.  I can almost see the inner wheels turning as these artists craft a concept into a tangible work of art.  For the artist (or writer) viewing this show, there is an inspirational boost.  You could take the challenge yourself–reframe it to your own genre–and give yourself a specified amount of time to complete the challenge.  If only for the fun of it!

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There is a cutting edge to creativity.  We repeat a technique over and over again (practice and patience) and in doing so, integrate this technique into our repertoire.  It has become part of our creative expression.  We have a conquest.

And then, another level of learning presents.  A chasm of sorts, something to leap across or otherwise navigate.  An artist or writer looks for the next creative challenge.  We want to grow.

Writing Prompt:
How’s the weather where you are today?  Is it a good day to be outdoors, sitting on a park bench with your journal in hand?  If not, how about a quiet little cafe where you can sit in a corner, sip your tea or coffee and play the observer.  Writers, notice the passers-by and try quick, one-sentence cameo descriptions…the goal is to capture something essential about that person…or place.  If you are an artist, try your hand at the sixty-second-sketch and then go on to the next person, place or thing that gets your attention.  Play!

 

sketch