Becoming Good at One Thing

I tried every medium. I had to. If I was to be an art teacher in a public school, I needed State Certification. I needed to be proficient in all media so that I could teach it.  I had to know my art history and art movements throughout time.  It doesn’t mean that I LIKED to work in all media, I just had to know enough to teach it.  As I explored each one, I would experiment to see how far I could take it by combining one medium with another technique or using it in a way that was never done before. I came to the conclusion that there is nothing new under the sun. Someone tried it before me! So where do we go from here?

I examined the progress I had  made in each medium. Which of the dozens of art supplies felt natural to ME? Which one was I more eager to play in? Which was more of a struggle? Which medium fit into my ideas of expression. For instance, if my style uses line and shape, would rough lines made with chalk speak to me more than using pen lines? Or would a thin liner brush to create line feel more like my style?  What if I like the impressionist style that uses overlapping short strokes to give me a pixelated painting? Then my natural medium would be pastels, even oils, acrylics and gouache or tempera.  I would want a more opaque medium than watercolor, which is free-flowing and transparent. If I enjoy ‘happy accidents’ where I have to pull an idea from the way the paint flows on my paper, watercolor would suit me.

After experimenting with each one, I worked in watercolors for a long time. I like the way it flows into watery brush strokes and it does its thing. I like the  spontaneity and  transparency when the white of the paper comes through the paint and illuminates the colors even more. I like the challenge of conquering smooth washes by overlaying layers of color. After I became really good at my technique, I needed to expand my ideas. The worst thing for an artist is to get stuck in the same old, same old.  I would be missing a lot more like experimenting with light and how it falls on objects at different times of day. I found that I like combining collage with my watercolors.

How do we incorporate collage in our work? I have two drawers full of parts of prints, magazines pages and even painted paper and the paper towels I used to mop up paint on my table. Yes, I dry them and save that too. It is fun for me to dig into that drawer and most of the time my selection of collage pieces, forces me to solve my problem another way.

Used when I am ‘stuck’.

Thus, the painting turns out so different than I planned it. This also frees me from my preconceived idea and sets me in a new direction.  I am using my creative instincts to solve a problem. I might correct a problem that I was unable to erase with another coat of paint, by gluing something over it. Ha! Where there is a will, there is a way, my mom used to say!

Once, I actually tore apart a watercolor I hated and used the scraps to create a new painting. King’s Garden was the result. It is in my gallery.

King’s Garden  Watercolor Collage, 24×36

Every work I do is dedicated to God. I thank Him for my talent and for Eternal Life because I believe by faith,  in Jesus dying for my sins. I am forgiven and at peace. How can I explain the JOY I have inside me except to say it is because of my personal relationship with God, not due to  religious doctrine or because I may belong to a church. Those are good on their own, but they do not replace knowing God in a personal way like you know your best friend. It is a deep trusting, true relationship that I have with Jesus. This is always available to you also. Ask Him to reveal himself to you personally then believe He will do it his way.

Expressing Yourself in Your Art

Hi again and celebrate spring with me!

I am happy to note that you have been progressing in understanding the nuances of more substantial art making.  You see, art is not just a pretty picture.  It needs to ‘say something’ to the viewer and communication is meant to draw them into your art by triggering their emotions. So maybe we should start here. What is emotion in art making? How do we use it?

What are you feeling at this moment? How can you express that feeling  to me on a canvas or paper? If you are feeling  confused, how would you show confusion in your art? Would you use the same directional lines or a bunch of different ones like thick, thin, jagged, pointy, wavy?  What colors would you choose to represent the feeling of confusion? A bunch of primary brights will do it. How would you represent ‘calm’?  Warm colors? Cool colors? Certainly not intense bright  colors. You would think of ‘gentle’ colors like aqua. pinks, peach, light blue.  Your brush strokes would be calmer, more horizontal, longer.  Was there a  color scheme that you liked in a magazine photo?  Even these photos are planned colors that are meant to attract your attention. Just do not do all ‘boring’, like the same old, same old. Using all cool colors needs a bit of warmth to add interest, like a peach or orange.  Start with just a smidgen of the main color’s complement (opposite on the color wheel). Using too much of a complement breaks the color balance.  Think ‘unequal’. If you use a lot of texture with your paint or as a collage, have a smooth spot to rest the eye for a moment.  I try to think  of ‘opposites’ to utilize in my work. This is an art principle called variety.  Art principles are how we use our art elements like line, shape, form, color, texture, value and space. The caution is to not use so much of one art element so  that it results in confusion or equalization.

I personally love to use texture and create it on the base canvas with tissue paper or modeling gel. However,  I incorporate a few smooth spots, not more than three, and never  in the same size. (Think mama, papa, baby when using size and group them spaced apart.) The eye will naturally follow. I do the same with color.

 I might use a bunch of cool colors and pop in a warm one in one or three places, but mini sized, so that they attract and not dominate the painting. This is called the principle of balance.  A dark or vivid color visually weighs more, so you need less.  Think of a small black box on one end of a seesaw with a white large box on the other end. The black box is more weighty than the larger bigger box, even if it takes up more space. Dark, vivid, weigh more.

So this month,  we have learned about expressing emotion by using art principles  of variety and balance. Too much variety creates confusion.  Equal amounts of the art elements creates boredom.

Everyone has a ‘balance meter’ inside them, so you will feel you want to equal things out,  like in one space with that one next to it.  Caution! That is when, as an artist, you need to fight that balance instinct and strive to be a little more creative. I carefully plan my composition so that the main interest is slightly off center or slightly lower or higher than middle. I think of opposites like tall/short, bright/dull, straight/wiggly, cool/ warm.  and just don’t use them in equal amounts. Do you get the idea? How about the following  along with the next one?

This is a great month for me as my spirit is  quickened as a believer in the Cross, that Jesus died on, for ME!   Wait!  Let me finish for it is for your benefit.

I have been renewed with the love Jesus has shown for me to choose to die for my sins!  Why me? I am not worthy. If I try to reach the north pole by throwing a rock at it,  I am likewise not able to be good enough to live in God’s presence when I die no matter how hard I try to be a good person.  I am no match for God’s holiness. I just cannot do it by being good!  No one is sinless except Jesus,  as He came from God and was born to die for us.  Then He rose from the dead on the third day and lives at the right hand of God the Father, interceding for us. Want peace in your life, tired one?

I accepted Jesus’ death by faith in His forgiveness. (Actually His resurrection was witnessed by many at that time.)   I am at peace with God, with myself and with others because His love is in me. He is risen and lives.  You say prove it!

God is Spirit so He cannot be proved like a thesis or by touch, or sight.  He is Spirit so   unless you have an open heart to ask Him to show you Who he is and  are willing to see the truth, you will never know God. Your inner spirit is dead. You need to choose to respond to Him.

So this is my challenge to you this April. It is my ultimate gift to you. The opportunity to have Eternal Life.  God may have gifted me to create, as He is the ultimate creator.  Yet, I pass on a greater gift to you, out of His love for you. All life is a risk. This may be a greater risk for you, an unbeliever. Ask Jesus to show you Himself.  Next be willing to accept His truth. You will know truth and the truth will set you free, I promise. You can pray simply to ask Jesus to forgive your sins because you believe He died to make an atonement for you. Then you need to choose to receive His life and peace into your spirit  so that He can take the burden of your sins and make them white and pure as snow. Then He is free to bless your life in ways you never imagined. This is my Easter gift to you. To BELIEVE. To RECEIVE. To be BLESSED.