Yes, I am going to share a new painting with you, along with process pics of its creation. Before I do that, though, some background…
A few years ago I created a short painting e-course, my Playshop-in-a-Box, with about an hour’s worth of video tutorials (and yes, it’s still available — click here to read more about it). Since then I’ve expanded my artistic repertoire, and there’s so much more I’d love to share.
For a long time I’ve been dreaming of creating a more involved course that participants could really sink their teeth into. Perhaps an online version of the course I’ve been contracted to teach at The Passionate Pen, the international calligraphy conference happening in Sonoma, California, next July: Dancing With Chaos: The Art of Improvisation.
(If that would be of interest to you, please let me know! No sense creating a course unless there are people who want to take it!)
Meanwhile, several months back Cory and I interviewed Kelly Rae Roberts for our Creative Insurgents Podcast. Already an admirer of Kelly Rae’s art, getting an opportunity to have a conversation with her showed me that her philosophy and approach to art is very much in alignment with my own, so when she announced that her painting e-course, Hello Soul, Hello Mixed-Media Mantras, was opening up, I jumped on board.
What better way, I thought, to collect some new ideas and techniques for my art, while also collecting some ideas for structuring a longer painting e-course of my own!
Kelly Rae’s course has been worth every penny — inspiring both from a student and a teacher perspective.
It has also really pushed me outside of my comfort zone!
I’m already used to working improvisationally, as Kelly Rae has us do in Hello Soul, so that part wasn’t new. Working with collage, however, definitely is new, and I still have a very conflicted relationship with it!
I should clarify that: collage is not new to me; I’ve been using bits of paper to “paint” with for years..
My Summer Flowers ketubah:
An in-process pic of Positively Entwined, which is collaged all over with tiny, typed yesses:
And a detail shot of another piece, also including my favorite collaged scraps of type:
So no, collage is not new to me… but collage with decorative papers is new to me.
I’m not yet in love with incorporating patterned and decorated papers in my paintings, though I admit this may be at least partly due to the fact that I’m not in love with the decorative papers available in my studio (and with four flatfiles filled with [mostly plain] paper, I’ve been reluctant to buy more!)
So far in the class I’ve made a few canvases that I really like… but which contain neither mixed media nor mantras…
My mom has forbidden me from touching these next two, declaring them “done!” 😉
This one’s my favorite:
I’m a big believer in the importance of getting comfortable with discomfort, however, and gosh darn it, I signed up for this class to learn from Kelly Rae, so I’ve also forged ahead with incorporating collage, using the papers at hand. So far, I’ve come out with one completed mixed-media mantra piece, Hello Hope, Hello Determination — rather an appropriate title for my experience in this e-course!
This piece started out nothing like what you see here, though! I thought you might be interested to see the process I went through, so here, for your viewing pleasure, is a visual diary of its creation.
Believe it or not, it started bright orange, yellow, and red! First, drippies:
And more drippies:
Then — whoa! Some wild and crazy messes, made with brayer, fingers, bubble wrap, and a variety of other random tools:
It was at this point that I started adding collage papers. Kelly Rae, in the spirit of “Nothing is wasted,” encouraged us to choose our favorite canvases to collage over. I, however, have not yet achieved such a zen state of detachment that I could do that… So I used this one, my least favorite…
None of the papers I had thrilled me, but as I said, they were what I had on hand.
At this point, I was feeling like an abject failure — what a mess! But I trusted the process and kept going. White and blue radically changed the entire feel!
Using bubble wrap as a stamp! (LOVE this technique!)
More papers… Plus stencils and stamping…
More paint and drippies…
Hmm… I think it goes this way…
Adding words, and “signs of life,” as Kelly Rae calls them (the flowers)… and feeling extremely self-conscious about it… I appreciate other people’s art that incorporates flowers and people and animals and things, but it’s never felt like me… so this is a stretch!
Not super happy with the lettering, either…
But voilá! Some white ink around the edges and NOW I like the letters! 🙂
So maybe adding some white to the flowers will help me like them better, too…
Yes! I do like them better with the white outlines…
Hmmm… Maybe some hearts??
Sigh… I like them, but again, they just don’t feel like me, so I fall back on my favorite typed yesses…
Is it done? Maybe it’s done… But it doesn’t quite feel done…
Ahh!!! Yes! A border! THAT’S what it needs!
Am I totally in love with it? No, not totally… I still don’t feel entirely comfortable combining representational bits and abstraction, but I’m totally thrilled with myself for trying something new! And I’m looking forward to making more messes!
I don’t know that I’ll be collaging over the canvases that I’m happy with as-is, though.
“Nothing is wasted,” says Kelly Rae, and I agree with that sentiment — the energy of the layers underneath still persists, even when those layers are covered up.
On the other hand, I’m also practicing learning when to stop. Sometimes that means not doing what the teacher says…
Ultimately, as I like to say, in art the only real rule is, “Whatever works is right.”
Or my new modification of that saying: “Whatever you like is right.”
Sometimes you have to go through a lot of “not like” to get to the like — a lot of “cray-cray,” as Kelly Rae would say. That is the creative process at work, and forging on through that uncomfortable, “ugly duckling” place is so much of what making art of any kind is about for me!
Most important of all is simply having fun, and when I ask my inner 4-year old what she thinks, really, she just wants to get her hands dirty. That’s where the fun is.
Or the same message in musical form:
I hope this inspires you to get your own hands dirty!
Go get creating!
PS — Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!