Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Monkey-Mind Learning Curves

I have been working my way through Australian artist LizSteel’s new 6-week online watercolor sketching course. This weekend, after watching her demo videos on color theory, I mixed watercolors, two at a time, first on the palette and then by layering the two colors right on the paper.

“This is tedious,” I thought. And then: “Maybe I like gouache better than watercolor, anyway. Maybe I’m done with this class.” And: “My day job tasks are waiting; I should stop now.”

“Good try,” I told myself, “but I am not buying your monkey mind. This art learning curve means too much to me to take shortcuts.” I reminded myself of my goal to approach a painting confidently, with the knowledge and skills I need to render what I want to. That means I had better work through the exercises that Liz Steel has so carefully and thoughtfully prepared.

In my youth I had the patience and persistence to learn to play the clarinet – eventually quite well. The years-long training involved learning to play scales and finger exercises, and repeating difficult passages over and over so that my fingers would develop the muscle memory needed. Under the tutelage of two encouraging band directors, I slowly developed my skills.

My pre-adolescent beginner self was so full of hope, so devoted, so captivated by the whole process. I call upon her now. We can do this.    

Sunday, February 4, 2018

More from Todos Santos

During our week in Todos Santos I snapped iPhone photos of family members, the fabulous Hotel San Cristobal, just outside of town, where we stayed several nights – and our equally wonderful AirbandB ((Flora Del Mar B&B) in Todos Santos. Once I returned home, I knew I would enjoy re-experiencing the sights, sounds and smells as I drew and painted from the photos.

This is a 7x10” gouache painting of the beach in front of the hotel. I fought my tendency to start with ink with this painting – though I did use some pencil to define the beach chairs. There’s so much more texture I could add to the beach, but something told me to just stop here. It’s so easy to overwork a little painting like this, especially if you haven’t mastered how to render the fine details.

Here’s a 7x10” watercolor sketch of potted cacti and a stairway at the Hotel San Cristobel. Once again, I used the brush (rather than an ink pen) to make the simplified lines. I can see ways to improve this sketch but I do like the pot and plant on the right, especially after I added the burgundy color to that plant.

I wish I was skilled enough as an artist to capture the looks of love, joy, and happiness on the faces of the bride and groom all week in Todos Santos. Perhaps someday. Meanwhile, for me, even these little paintings help me store all that happiness in my memories.

Drawings and paintings done after I travel help me experience the special times twice – once as they happen, and then again, more slowly, as I sketch. I feel so lucky to be able to extend my savorings through paper, pen, brush, and paint.

More About the Sally Project

I met Sally forty years ago when I was twenty and she was the one in her sixties. I was a waitress at a Howard Johnson’s restaurant on...