The early part of this month has been a mixed bag in regards to art. On one hand, I’m quite satisfied to find that drawing & painting is becoming more of a routine for me and that I’ve been able to fit it into my schedule. On the other hand, my results this week have not been what I had wished.
There are some basic truths about me. One is that I have a very real art supply addiction. Seriously I never met a tube of paint I didn’t fall in love with. Paper? I’ve got to have stacks hanging around. Pencils? What brand, I’ll ask you. That strange once in a lifetime French curve? Don’t worry I got it somewhere.
I suppose that harboring supplies in itself isn’t exactly bad, but most of the time it works against me. There was a time when I could put all of my supplies in a single cardboard box and everything I could create was created from them. I imagine there was a sufficient use of the things I did have that kept things at bay. When I gave up being consciously active in my art, I didn’t use as much of my supplies and then things piled up. I put them in bags and boxes and under tables and in drawers. They lined closet shelves, some got lost in the garage. I may not have created as much as I wished, but shopped way more than I could have imagined.
Recently, while initiating one of what I hope will be many purges of the excess that I’m surrounded with, I realized that the bulk of my supplies were one factor that prevented me from creating anything. Honestly, it’s tough to create a painting when you can’t even find your supplies that are scattered all over the house. Once you have spent all your time looking for everything you need, your inspirations and energy pretty much dissipate.
Recently I took some time just to locate like objects and put them together. Doing this the true shopping madness was apparent and I wondered why I purchased so much stuff.
Well, that answer came easy. For me each Supply holds within it the promise of the key that unlocks your imagination. Subconsciously every time I went shopping, I found some object or supply that would be that magic answer to getting me kick started again. Unfortunately the object would come in the house and be eaten by all the other stuff looming around it. The very objects of inspiration formed a wall I could not get around.
The sheer foolishness of some of it was incredible. During the process it was common to hear me remark “Hey, it’s a number 2 brush!” followed soon after with “Hey, it’s another number 2 brush!” and another and another. Repeat the process with “pad of paper”, “eraser”, “pencil” or “paint tube” and you would get the idea.
Even worse, some of these objects were not even up to the standards of what I would want to work with. For example, while getting back into things, I decided that I didn’t want to work with any watercolors that were not lightfast. This gave me a baseline to weed out stuff I didn’t want. On a side note: Unfortunately there was one or two purchases following the process, but it was directed with what I needed to round out my palette of colors.
Another sad thing to note was all the materials I purchased that were either very sub-standard or had crossed the line into unusable. Time will do that to things. Considering everything, I suppose it just made them easier to get rid of. The student colors and supplies I wouldn’t use went into the “tag sale box” or to some child I knew will use them up. Kids are a great source for stuff like that.
On a positive note, the act of organizing these materials, and weeding out what was no longer usable is actually leaving me more motivated and able to create. Now that my brushes and my paints are in one place, I find it easier to sit down for ten minutes and play around with them. I keep a “kit” of my most likely to use by the kitchen table. Also – getting organized lets me use the kitchen table as an area to paint because my “stuff” is manageable and portable just like the old days.
I still have too much stuff, but that is me after all – always the pack-rat. At least I’m getting things down to levels where I’m in control. Don’t get me wrong – I still WANT every different color of every different brand of paint I can find, but I’m finding it easier not to impulse buy them all. I’m not expecting to have all my problems solved in one day (It did take years to build up the clutter) but little by little, I’m making progress.
In regards to what I have been drawing and painting:
Dragon Head Sketches
I decided a couple of weeks ago that I had wanted to do something more than just some random sketching and playing with supplies and I had decided that I wanted to do it with watercolors. My ambition will be the death of me I think. Oh the fabulous idea I had of an underwater dragon guarding a treasure in a clam shell. Sure it was a cliché but I did some sketching and then happily went on to draw this dragon. Then, as I usually do, I inked the whole thing and then started to paint. Well, it wasn’t what I wanted exactly and it reminded me more of a comic book page.
Practice makes perfect - much practice is in order here.
I wanted to change the drawing too. So I started again, and this time I tried the old method of doing a drawing on tracing paper and transferring it. I read about it in a book about Tasha Tudor. It’s also a method that my friends from way back had taught me. It also allowed me to trace off the predecessor.
Once again I dove in and laid down some color. It looked like a much better start but I soon remembered why we stretch watercolor paper. Buckle-City! Unfortunately I lost interest here.
Nice try but no cigar.
I chose to ignore the paper issues for sake of practice and while I can’t say I like anything this project is producing, I keep reminding myself that it’s the learning from the practice that is the goal here. The output is secondary right now. Who knows, maybe I’ll produce something I’m happy with next time.
I’m not sure if I want to work on this exact piece at the moment but maybe he will come back into my orbit again.