I had a bit of a tough weekend – first someone stole money from me. It wasn’t a small amount either and it’s just before Christmas which makes things really hard because I need to get my son and the rest of my family’s Christmas presents and still pay all my bills. Plus my confidence is shattered by what they’ve done. Then the next morning my heating broke down. So I had to get that repaired too. Because I got stressed about all of that and cold because of the lack of heating – now I feel quite unwell again. I suspect it’s just a cold or something coming on but it makes painting more difficult. I wonder, do the people who steal like this have any clue how hard it is for honest folk when they do these things to us? Do they know how wicked and cruel their actions are?
Anyway, because I’m feeling unwell I decide to paint something really quick today. It’s not really a painting – more of a sketch in paint:
It’s done in gouache and it took about 20 minutes. I think my favourite bit of the whole picture is the colour of the background – I just love that saffron yellow.
Normally, when I paint, I try to create a picture based on something which I’ve seen which is beautiful. Today I tried to do someting a bit different. Instead of painting using my eyes to guide me (metaphorically)I tried to paint something from my heart (metaphorically). Explaining that more clearly I tried to paint a feeling rather than something I could see. I find this sort of thing really difficult. A lot of the time I’m not sure what I’m feeling. However, being a mum and raising a wonderful son, I know the feeling of being with him and all being well for both of us. For me I call this feeling ‘Home’ because it means love and safety and belonging.
Now my son is a fabulous teenager right now so in the image I made him smaller to make it clear what the relationship is between the two figures (he’s actually bigger than me now!!!).
I began with a sketch of the kind of image I wanted in biro. I wasn’t concentrating too much (I was watching the ‘Big Bang Theory’ – yay!) and this helped to kind of disengage my brain and let my feelings guide the image a bit.
Then I had a play around with the colours and the paint to get a feeling of how I wanted to do it. Because there was no pressure with this painting sketch I was really able to relax while I was painting it. It was kind of fun!
Then I began the actual painting:
And here’s how it turned out:
I think it’s OK, but part of me likes the loose and easy lines of the painting sketch where I was testing the colours more. I’ve always admired that loose painterly style which some folk have developed but I find it almost impossible to do when it counts.
I think buying some more paint might help. One of the things that really forces me to be constrained is when I can’t afford to waste any paint because I’m running low. I don’t think art works well when it’s done in a timid and conservative way; it has to have a ‘generosity of spirit’.
Having been unwell for a few weeks I’m really happy to say that I’m much better now. I still have one more test at the hospital but I’m unlikely to be re-admitted (hopefully). When I first thought about painting again today it felt like an “uphill stuggle” (well if I’m being metaphorical – it actually felt like rock-climbing up a face with a nasty overhang on crumbly sandstone). I’m just totally out of step with all of this.
Luckily I’ve been a teacher for half my adult life. I know how to help children and young people in this situation so I decided to apply all of that to myself – and it worked! Basically, if a student is stuck or struggling one of the main things I do is to break down the task into smaller and smaller pieces until you get to something totally easy – even if that easy mini-task is much much easier that what was originally being taught. It doesn’t matter – what matters is finding a solid place to start and getting your rhythm going and your confidence up. So I looked back as some of the gesture drawing I did months ago. I picked one and decided to try to quickly sketch it in gouache paint. My aim wasn’t to make anything brilliant but to just let it the process start to work inside me again so I can feel the rhythm of it.
So here is the first gesture drawing I decided to paint:
Now I couldn’t find the original picture I used as a reference so I had to work with what I know (and what a don’t know) about the human body.
So here are a couple of process pictures:
I really enjoyed the freedom to use paint in the same way I use a pencil and just be free and a bit rough with it.
Here’s how it finally turned out:
I’m going to do a least one more of these quick painting sketches (this one took 15 minutes) over the next few days.