Friday was a big night! I packed up eight pieces and brought them to the Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery. Several businesses in the Phinney neighborhood make an Art Walk possible by allowing artists to come in and showcase their work. My artwork perched on one of the many walls, allowing me to talk shop with patrons and, because it was Flying Bike, ogle some adorable golden retriever puppies, a cattle dog, a spicy little chow, and a gorgeous German shepherd. I narrowly resisted caving into my usual behavior and rolling around on the ground to interact with the puppies, but I digress (seriously, they were so stinking cute).
The one thing I was surprised to hear from a number of people is that they have a desire to learn how to paint, but don't try because they "know it would suck."
This makes me so sad!
Do art for you. Don’t hold yourself to the expectation of selling, gifting, or hanging on the wall.
The process is the most valuable part for those of us called to create. I do it for the thinking I do while sketching, painting, or coloring. Art and writing is how I get through physically tough times, how I process grief, and how I connect with what I’m feeling. It’s even how I express love and joy when verbal interactions aren’t enough.
Remove your judgment from the process. That’s when art brings the greatest joy.
I love hosting art classes for friends. The one thing I challenge them to do before starting is to leave judgement at the door. I don't want them evaluating themselves against their neighbor or what someone has hanging on the wall. I want them to give themselves permission to put a brush on the page without the expectation that it will resemble anything.
To help perpetuate this expectation, I start the session always by exploring. Many of the people who participate have never interacted with watercolors before. We start with experimenting. First wet the page in one section and then add a small amount of paint on a brush. Seeing how the paint reacts on wet paper is always fascinating and resembles a bloom. I love the reaction it brings from first timers. It's a magical moment when people forget about structure and resemblance and just marvel at how weird the process is.
One of the coolest things about the creative arts is the fact that an artist will continue to evolve as long as they continue to practice. Some of my biggest changes come about through experimentation with materials. The image on the left below was four months prior to the image on the right. Since the first image, I've discovered colored pencils that leave behind much more vibrant pigment, allow for more details, and handle layering much differently. I've also found that drawing on pigmented paper allows for more contrast. I can tell it's the same dog in the drawings, but the materials, a more interesting pose, and taking more license with contrast led to what I strongly feel is a better piece.
The one subject I continue to struggle with is people. My artist grandmother and mother continue to remind me how much better I would be at human portrait work if I had spent as much time drawing humans as animals.
I'm sure some of you can relate to why I generally like animals so much more than many humans.
There are exceptions though, and it's something I'm continuing to work through. Perhaps I'll have some inspiring before and after posts in the next year or two.
Another visually interesting change: I tend to go back and forth on is how painterly or loose my drawings are, which isn't good or bad. There are days when I aspire to achieve photo realism, but the longer I'm practicing again, I spend less time on details and more time on structure, colors, and contrast. Art is so subjective, and I'm not sure what I prefer from day to day.
The two images above were created with the same materials, on the same paper, but the output is very different. I like them both.
Hopefully I've provided a little bit of inspiration and you feel compelled to create. If not, what's holding you back?