I used to dislike New Years. Being such a Christmas fanatic, the New Years holiday seemed more like an anti-climactic ending to such a festive time of year–like Christmas’s sad, ugly, forgotten cousin who had a birthday that everyone felt they needed to begrudgingly acknowledge–than a real cause for celebration.
But, in the past several years, I have grown to increasingly love New Years because it is a holiday that is filled to the brim with hope. It’s the holiday of endless possibilities: you can sit down and list out all of the things you’d like to do or aspire to in the next year, no matter how wild the ideas are that cross your mind, AND you have 365 days to do all of those things! Not a week! Not a month! An entire year. There is no rush, no limits, and my daydreamer self loves that concept.
Here is to a happy, healthy New Year for everyone.
Two posts ago I wrote about my extreme distaste for my current watercolor situation. So, I decided to begin at Square 1, which was: clean my palette completely off and start hunting for a wider range of colors.
I’ve been using the same color palette/scheme since about 2014. While the colors one can potentially mix from a mere set of reds, yellows, and blues is supposedly infinite, I’m here to tell you that’s honestly a load of horse patties. Sorry, color-theory folks.
Now, I was faced with the first problem. Paint is expensive. Like, seriously expensive, even for .5 measly little fluid ounces of the stuff. Granted, a little Daniel Smith goes a long way, but still. I can go through a whole lot of Shadow Violet.
And then, I remembered.
The GIANT TUB of gouache and watercolors I received from a dear friend who lost her cancer battle several years ago had sat languishing in the back of my closet for quite awhile, begging to be organized. Well, then. It was time to organize.
What a treasure awaited me.
Tube upon tube of colors arrayed before me. So many exciting new colors I’d never used or heard of–or simply hadn’t bought because of the expensive gamble of buying a color and deciding I hated it–were miraculously at my finger tips. Folks, I haven’t been this excited about painting in awhile.
I spent an entire evening sorting through almost all of the empty tubes, dried up tubes, leaky tubes, and perfectly fine tubes of paint all in an evening, creating a pile for gouache and a pile for watercolor. Then, I organized each paint type into color families so I wasn’t spending valuable time hunting for a Dioxazine Purple amid my Yellow Ochres. I made color charts and painted various experimental doodles with both gouache and watercolor to decide which I liked best. It felt like I was putting all of my favorite pets into little comfy corners of the room, waiting to be doted upon.
I think I might finally be heading in a better direction for myself. As always, stay tuned.
With company over last weekend and this week shaping up to be very full as well–we have a toddler starting a Mommy and Me gymnastics class and a husband who has started school again–I haven’t found the energy to post something lately.
So: for now, here is a quick sketch of M., happily stacking plastic rings after dinner this evening.
I had a realization yesterday afternoon that just about shook me to the core.
I was toying around again with the idea of going back to a personal project I had shelved more than a year ago, (more on that to come), and had even hauled out my watercolors to start painting, when a distinctly and increasingly uncomfortable feeling began creeping up my spine. As I watched the painted sections dry, a sudden awareness came into focus like a developing polaroid: I no longer like to work in watercolor the way I have been. The worst part? I can’t remember a recent time when I did.
For an artist whose current career has been built on a certain medium, this is akin to waking up one morning and suddenly realizing that you have been in a souring relationship for many years and despite your numerous, desperate attempts to save it, it has, in fact, gone permanently south.
And, like many relationships that fall apart, there have been obvious (ignored) signs along the way. So many signs that you feel like a total idiot for not recognizing them in the first place. (Or, perhaps, it was the refusal to recognize them).
I’m not saying it’s time to chuck, along with my brushes, every single tube of Daniel Smith and Winsor & Newton out the window, but this is a sure sign I need to step back, scrub out my old painting palette, reevaluate, and ask myself some questions. Maybe I need to expand my current color palette? Maybe I need to try some dyes? Maybe I need to take a seriously long break from watercolor altogether.
The long and short of it is, the current situation of this “relationship” needs to drastically change. I don’t know what it will look like in the end, but for now, there’s a road ahead of me and I have to travel it.
Tonight’s drawing of my snoozing son is inspired by a sweet aria entitled Evening Prayer from the opera, “Hansel and Gretel,” by Engelbert Humperdinck. (And no matter how beautiful the music is, I cannot for the life of me get over that name. What did his mother call him? Lil Dinkey? What did his friends call him? Bert? Did he have any friends named Ernie?)
I digress. To the point, it’s a wonderful lullaby and a dreamy tune, with lyrics which I will inscribe herein:
Whenat night I go to sleep,Fourteen angels watch do keep, Two my head are guarding, Two my feet are guiding, Two are on my right hand, Two are on my left hand, Two who warmly cover, Two who o’er me hover, Two to whom tis given to guide my steps to heaven.
Sleeping softly then it seems, Heaven enters in my dreams; Angels hover round me, Whisp’ring they have found me; Two are sweetly singing, Two are garlands bringing, Strewing me with roses, As my soul reposes. God will not forsake me when dawn at last will wake me.
Happy Saturday! I know it has been several days since I have posted, but hopefully the wait will have been worth it since I had to spend some time filming and troubleshooting a: (drum-roll please…) time-lapse video for the first timeever!
That’s right, folks. Today you get to see one of my drawings come to life before your very eyes–several hours worth of work blitzing by in a matter of seconds for your viewing pleasure! (And maybe for your inspiration as well.)
As you can see in the video, this piece is a bit larger and more involved than most of the work I have been posting here of late, so it was filmed over two days. Unfortunately, on the second day my filming angle got a bit off-kilter, but you get the bonus of seeing my wonderful mother-in-law drop in to chat with me about family resemblance and the dog chase our cat out of the frame (Ah, family life!)
As a double bonus you get to hear my lilting voice describe a few of the techniques I’m using so any viewer can take those little nuggets of knowledge and apply them to their own pastel adventures, too.
There is something about pastel to which I keep getting drawn. (Yes, yes, very punny.)
Maybe it’s because it is a drawing implement that you actually PAINT with, (and that is, in fact, its proper term–if you use pastel, you say that you “paint” with it, as opposed to drawing with it.) yet there is not water or brush involved.
It’s like the best of both worlds, sans drying time and plus portability.
No, I didn’t get contacts, I ditched those back in college. Drawing glasses can be a real pain and sometimes they just doesn’t look good in a drawing, so, there you have it: me, sans spectacles.
I wanted to make a drawing using a “sfumato” technique, mostly because a) I love how it sounds and b) I love how classical it always makes a drawing look, and I was in a classical sort of mood.
I actually just about gave up on this piece because I wasn’t sure if I liked the direction in which it was going (and am still not sure how I feel about the finished product) but I figured I got this far so I might as well finish the thing because any drawing is good practice.