Do you ever try to think like a tree? Like in “Gee I’m so thirsty!” or “It’s getting so cold. I’d enjoy a blanket of leaf mulch to restore my energies.” This piece made me think like a tree.
I started by painting foliage and trunk shapes with water and droppering three acrylic inks into the water shapes so they moved and blended while I tipped the paper. Then I took a color shaper and pulled some of the wet ink out to create branches and spritzed the foliage lightly with water to suggest leaf shapes.
Crinkled Masa paper makes it ridiculously easy to paint foliage. These two pieces were quick demos done at local art stores – Rileystreet Art Supply in Santa Rosa, and last weekend in San Rafael. If you drag the brush flat way over this damp crinkled Japanese paper you get marvelous texture, and if you press down with your brush and layer on the colors you see the suggestion of foliage. Here I’ve used Daler Rowney acrylic inks and Higgins Black India. Come in with a Sumi or other fine pointed brush loaded with black ink and you’ve got the suggestion of tree trunks and branches and brambles and such.
I haven’t done much realistic painting for a while now, but this technique can tend to draw me back into it.
We’re past the apple blossom time now, but that’s what inspired this little painting, begun as a Masa paper demo and finished with some collaging of more Masa pieces on top. I went for bouncing color shapes around in a more impressionistic way here. There’s something so satisfying about gluing paper pieces. It’s restful (once you’ve decided where they should g0) and you can do it to most any music. Maybe it has to do with moving the color around until you get it “right” and not having to make the commitment until you glue it down. I think it helps one develop composition skills. With paint it’s always more of a commitment, or risk.
Somehow we have to stay in that state of mind where it’s OK to mess up or we can’t ever do anything original in our art. I just heard Eric Maisel speak at Copperfield’s Book store last week. He really hit the nail on the head when he said that we spend our day trying to get things right. (You know, think of all the things you “accomplish” each day in your life.) But when we do our creative work we must shift gears and give ourselves permission to make glorious messes, which may or may not turn out successfully. He says you actually have to tell yourself “OK, now I’m completely stopping my need to get things right”. Not an easy task, but absolutely necessary. Strewn in among the messes are some absolute jewels we would not have gotten any other way. After a day of painting or mess making I leave everything out and come in the next day hoping to find those unvarnished jewels. The more messes I’ve made, the more likely I’ll find one!
If you think you’re up for making some glorious creative “messes” this weekend, there is one space in the Saturday mini-workshop in my studio. For more information and to register, visit my website. You can also sign up for the one in July, August and/or September. By the way, you’ll also find video demos on my website.