Trying Something New, Again!

Windows of the Soul – Mixed Media on Canvas Board – 10×12 inches

I finished this painting today and was inspired by the tutorial from a new book I purchased called – Acrylic Solutions, exploring mixed media layer by layer, by Chris Cozen and Julie Prichard.  I love this book.  It takes you through the steps to create multi-layered and textured images.  I had completed a few of the exercises in the beginning of the book and decided to give this one a try.

Firstly, I didn’t have any of the paint colors used in this tutorial, except Titanium white.  I had to kind of wing it. I tried to blend colors as close as I could tell in the book, but I was also conscious of not wanting to make an exact copy.  I focused on working out the placement of the lights and the darks.   Secondly, I didn’t have any images I could use as transfers, so I used stamps instead.  I am going to see if I can get a book with Architectural images that I can photocopy images from as that can be useful in the future.  Lastly, I also stopped at a certain stage with the adding of colors as I preferred my painting to be more dark/blue and less green.  My marks and words are different too as I didn’t like some of the marks in the lesson and I wanted to make this my own.  I don’t find adding marks natural to me as I am not used to doing it.  I suppose it gets easier after time.  Hopefully I will have my own marks that are distinctive to me.  I also added another window.

Although this painting is similar as in the book, it is not the same.  I had fun making this. Having completed some of the previous exercises in the book helped me when blending the paint and working on the different layers.  I also used my fingers a lot too!  Although this is not something I would normally paint, I can use the techniques for some landscapes that I would like to make.

Warning:  When buying a new book that you like, it can be so easy to go crazy and buy all of the supplies that are used in the book.  This can be expensive.  (I haven’t bought anything yet!)

Chris Cozen works for Golden Paints (lucky her!) and all of the products in the book are Golden.  Golden paints can be very expensive in the UK.  However, one can shop around and buy grounds and glazes from other manufacturers.  You can also find Chris and Julie on YouTube for more inspiration.

What do you think?

Trying New Things, Again!

img_3367Untitled, Mixed Media/Collage on W&N Cotman Paper 140 lbs – A3 (12×16 inches)

Two of my favorite books at the moment are Intuitive Painting Workshop, by Alena Hennessy and Acrylic Color Explorations, by Chris Cozen.  I initially got sucked in by the very colorful book covers, but I am really liking the ideas and interesting photos.  I decided that 2017 is going to be the year of mixed media.  I have always liked it.  I also like the intuitive painting thing.  The Intuitive Painting Workshop book is a combo of mixed media and intuitive.   Suggestions are offered for each month, so the timing is great on this now as there are some good ideas for January.

As this is all new to me, I was a bit bemused about how to start, but | gave it a shot.  I got to a point when I didn’t know what to do next, so I stopped for the evening and slept on it.  When I woke up, I had an idea and this is how it turned out.  This is so completely off the wall for me, but I actually like it.  Think I might even get it framed.

Masters and Apprentices

In the old days, if one wanted to learn a craft, one had to learn from a Master.  You would be apprenticed to a Master craftsman at a very young age and learn everything you could so that one day you could take over and become a Master in your own right.

Whenever you want to learn something new, you will need someone to teach you and show you how to do it.  That is why we go to school, to learn from people who have the benefit of experience of being taught by someone who specialised in their chosen subject.  Going to school and learning from others is not a bad thing.  What makes it difficult for the student to enjoy school or a particular subject is how well the teacher teaches it.  I used to hate math until I did calculus in college.  My calculus teacher had a sense of humor and actually made it interesting.  He must have been really good because I was a tough customer.  Children always excel at what they are interested in or how well the teacher can get them interested in the subject.  It is not enough for a teacher to just teach a subject, they need to engage their students and inspire them to want to learn more about what they are being taught.

When I was learning to dance Argentine Tango, I trusted my teacher to teach me how to do it correctly.  It wasn’t until I went to the Milongas that I realised that I had been taught the wrong kind of Tango.  I needed to learn Salon dancing, not show dancing.  Even though he was very good at Salon dancing, he preferred the show stuff.  I could have stayed with this guy for years and never learned anything different, but what he had was enthusiasm, and it is that enthusiasm that made me want to know more and got me out to other classes and teachers and how I found out how to dance well.  It took time and a lot of practice and just getting out there to dance.  Unfortunately, you really can’t learn how to Tango from youtube.  I have danced with people that tried, and no it doesn’t work.

When it comes to learning how to paint, you can read as many books as you like, but unless someone shows you how to mix the paint, load the brush, and place it on the paper, you are still a bit in the dark.  Interestingly enough, you can learn how to paint from videos, but only if the teacher is showing you everything.  Most of them really don’t show you how to put the brush on the paper and that is the crucial thing about painting, the brushstroke.

Sometimes artists don’t show these things as they want you to buy their books or DVDs or download their lessons.  Even when you do these things, the information isn’t always complete.  It is a risk you take.  I have loads of art books.  Some of them are just inspiring and I don’t even dream of painting like the person who’s book I purchased.  I just like what they do and hopefully will get ideas of how to work in a different way.  Some books I buy because I do want to learn how to paint the way the artist paints.  Sometimes, I can spend half of my day reading books and watching tutorials on youtube before I even sit down to start a painting.  There is nothing like practice and experimenting, but it is great to be able to know how to do something from the beginning without having to think too hard about it.

I started a watercolor class because the class I wanted got cancelled and I was offered any other class at half price.  I chose the watercolor class because it fit in with my schedule and I already had some supplies.  I was pleasantly surprised how the class was initially structured.  We didn’t have to stretch paper for a start!  We got stuck straight into painting.  Unfortunately, I thought the tutor gave us too much too soon as half the class had already done the beginner’s class before and were more advanced.  If you read back on my watercolor journey, you will see what we did in class.  I thought some of the work was too advanced and I don’t feel we were ever really taught how to load the brush properly and place it on the paper.  I have been finding that out on my own.  In spite of my teacher’s lack of experience in teaching how to paint in watercolor, he did have enthusiasm which I picked up.  I now have the bug and want to be able to paint well in watercolors.  I would really love to go to a class, but most of them take place in the daytime and are really for the unemployed or retired.  That is why you see so many older people painting!   I include myself in the older category, but I do have to work and so time is limited!

The next best thing is going to a workshop and learning from an established artist.  Numbers tend to be limited so that students can get individual feedback from the teacher.  You can actually watch the artist at work and learn how they hold the brush, etc.  There is nothing like being in the room and watching someone paint.  You don’t have to paint exactly like them, but copying someone is the first step to branching out and doing something on your own.  You also learn from the students in your class too.  I will be watching out for workshops with artists that I like once I get the basics down.

So, after reading all of that, thank you very much if you have gotten this far, I will show you what I painted today.

Poppies-Watercolor on Paper-A4
Poppies-Watercolor on Paper-A4

This was done from a lesson in a book: Vibrant Flowers in Watercolour, by Fiona Peart. There is also a DVD that I am thinking about buying as I saw an excerpt of it from her youtube page.  I did trace the shapes, but not all of them.  I also didn’t have all of the same colors, so I improvised.  It is not exactly the same, as hers is much better, but it I’m happy with it and had fun doing it – and that is what painting is all about, having fun!