Tuesday, 14 January 2014

A Muse your muse - Step by step Oil on Canvas 8in x 10in

Sometimes, it's good to take a challenge. It helps enormously who gives you the challenge too. It helps to have a Muse. This can be anyone whose opinion matters to you. Know your muse. Make sure your Muse knows you too (you don't just want someone who agrees with you all the time). Then use your muse. A musingly. 

My Muse asked me to take my favourite broken decoration from the Christmas Tree and paint it with the largest brush I could bear. Ooh, challenge indeed! After pondering the broken fairies and chipped sparkly angels, I chose the Santa who's reindeer had lost its front legs but was valiantly carry Santa nonetheless. I was over ambitious and decided I'd do TWO paintings, but ended up completing just one. The first image shows the one which I abandoned  - this was drawn straight onto oil board, which is smooth, and I laid down a diluted wash of burnt sienna to get the tones down. It looks a bit like a water colour at this stage. Adding tones really helps with balance. 

While that was drying I started drawing another one onto canvas. I knew this would be quicker to paint, but cotton canvas is very rough, so the end result would be chunky not fluid. But for the big-brush-challenge, chunky was fine. I drew it directly onto canvas using a colour pencil, quite freely, as I prefer painting over this than painting over charoal. it's a horrible surface to draw on, so rough that it almost sharpens the pencil as you go along! Detail is not possible. I then bypassed the tonal stage and went straight to colour.

Painting with a big brush had major limitations - I did my best to use the tip of the brush or the side only, or to only pick up paint on one small section of it. But finesse was impossible, and tonal balance and shapes became more important than fine detail. 

The end result is farily rough. But it did the job for me - I needed a kick start to focus myself, and being given a Musey challenge did the job. 

I abandoned the first one, on smooth board, precicely because I didn't NEED the challenge of it any more and have begun some tree paintings instead. 

Friday, 3 January 2014

Kids Day In

One of the (many) wonderful things about children and drawing is their willingness to do it. The younger they are, the more enthusiasm they have. This sometimes begins to wane from about the age of 9, but that is more to do with their own self perception and self criticism (aw) and NEVER about ability, for they (and WE) are all Well Able. 

The cure for re-establishing enthusiasm is Praise, Encouragement and Appreciation of their efforts. If we can keep these three things going, self confidence gets a peep in the door, and the child will blossom once more. And let's face it, it's the Blossoming that we're after here. 

What is also interesting to watch is each individual childs own progression. I don't teach children very often and this handsome young man (above, in his Christmas jumper) hadn't been for about a year. Then he was 6. Now he is 7.. What a difference that has made to his artwork! He drew with real care and attention to detail and was focused and interested for the entire class. Awesome!

The other thing that children do is... LISTEN. Who'd have thought?? One young lady who attends as regularly as possible, went home after her first class and proceeded to explain in great detail to her grandmother (who is a long term, advanced student of mine) exactly how to observe, and how to apply paint... So even when the finished artwork may not SEEM to be the masterpeice you expected, it's just because the hand takes a while to catch up with the brain. They listen and absorb like sponges. 

For information on classes please email julie@juliedouglas.co.uk
Upcoming - weekly drawing and painting classes, oil workshops, portrait workshops, Drawing workshops and portfolio preparation. 

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Why Resolutions don't work, and you won't find any HERE..!!

I've had a look at a few arty blogs in the past couple of days and the theme seems to be 'Resolutions' - and one or two are a bit overwhelmed or unsure of their near-future creative path. Some even mention the Winter Blues. Whatever NEXT?
I have some thoughts. Resolution is resolving a PROBLEM. There's no problem, you just need to make a DECISION.

Firstly, I don't think resolutions work - even publicly announced ones. Words are only words unless you feeeeeel them. Words are an expression of the feeling, otherwise they are empty. Drawing, painting, being at your desk, being inspired, getting ON with it are personal experiences. Personal and Intimate. No matter how much whooping or shouting from the rafters, no matter how much anticipating or cheering, the Activity, the Action, the Experience (in an ongoing fashion) is Singular. Single Focus. Solitary.

Creativity is NOT instigated through making a resolution on a given date in the year.. (oh, PLEASE...!)

It is NOT a group acitivity. Of course, colliding with creative others (or even just Others) is often wonderful for our creative spirits, and can inject us with enthusiasm - but to take that enthusiasm and translate it into personal creative activity is another thing. A different branch on the same tree, if you like.

Let's stick with trees for our analogy, for I love trees. Creativity is the root of us. The root is embedded, grounded, holding us together. We are Earthed. Ideas are like life blood - they flow up from the roots and burst out the top of our highest branches, scattering the birds in our excitement! Those top branches are free to sway and bend in the breeze, safe because of those big strong roots. And in between is the trunk. Which connects all parts of us together. The little twigs, the branches that grow a bit off-kilter, the leaves and the blossom. Oh yes - we're a tree with flowers and fruits. There are, of course, not too many trees flowering or fruiting on the 1st of January..

Trees don't speak much. Yet, they DO connect with us. They make sounds, creaking and swishing and cracking and groaning. And they are gorgeous. They breathe. They help us breathe.

Creativity does not require words, or a forum. Oh Lord, who invented the Forum?! For me, the act of publicly 'showing' things on forums, while appearing to be laudible, is in fact the kiss of death. If a forum jump-starts you, all to the good. But remember, the jump-start is all we are looking for - NOT the be all and end all answer to All Things. This doesn't mean that I don't think you should join things - there is nothing better than a great class, a great conversation, a great sharing. But if we talk too much, we're merely theorizing, not practicing. We are holding lots of interesting information but not producing anything. To practice gives more matter and enthusiasm to the next conversation. But the conversation is not the point. The point is personal practice.

So. If you've not done as much drawing or painting or poetry writing or whatever your creative choice is recently, then firstly, forgive yourself. It's ok.

If you want to do more, then do more. Start with a small plan. Robert Genn's advice is - Go to your room. That's a great one. Go and sit at your desk and don't leave it. Sooner or later you'll start, even if it's only to relieve the boredom of just sitting there. It might even feel good to be just sitting there.

Busyness - has it occurred to you that perhaps you don't need a routine, but a regime...?! Take no prisoners in the act of getting going.

Focus - this means giving it some serious attention. It means Work. And how fortunate that the more we focus, the harder we work, the more involved we become, the more into it we get. And once we're into it, we're THERE.

Inspiration - this is, I'm afraid, a bit of a Myth. If you wait till you're inspired, you may be waiting a long time. If, however, you decide to do something and start, lo and behold, inspiration will COME! We just have it a bit back to front.

Oh yes, and making a mess is important. Make sure you make a mess. See below..

Go to your desk now. Focus. You have begun.

Here's me writing, blogging and painting two paintings at once.. Of trees!