Enjoy life now... it has an expiration date.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Oh the value of those little 4" x 6" inch cards.....

We're talking about the WetCanvas Vacation Dreams project (see post dated July 25 for details). This is my first project of this type and so far it's been a ton of fun... but, happily, it's also been a wonderful learning experience.... and I have lots more cards yet to make! Besides the obvious benefits of receiving keepsake original art from around the world, there's also the fun of doing lots of little mini paintings. Plus, having a deadline helps keep me motivated and on track.

What have I learned so far that has me raving about this project? Read on....

- Because there's so much latitude in subject choice I'm finding out exactly what subjects hold my interest long enough for me to complete a painting. Some of my choices have surprised me. I'd always envisioned myself painting fresh landscapes with clear colors, lots of blues and greens (a la Maine, England, Ireland, etc). While I still love those subjects, I've also been strongly drawn to portraiture, some architectural themes, desert themes, and "macro" style pictures.

- Doing lots of little paintings gives me a wonderful freedom to fail. This frees my "inner painter" from my "inner critic" and for me, these two often work in opposition to each other. After all, it's only a little piece of paper that measures a mere 4" x 6" ... so what if it comes out horribly? Trash it and start a new one! No problem, no pressure! This freedom has been part of what has helped me to choose subjects I might not have chosen if I were doing a larger painting.

- I've noticed my painting habits changing as I continue making cards. It's a "tight focus" thing versus a "big picture" thing. I used to get so involved in one little area, trying to achieve perfection before I moved on, that I'd frequently get that part too dark, too detailed, too saturated, too whatever, and then have to go back and adjust it to blend in with the rest of the picture. Today, as I was working on one of the cards, I noticed I was steadily moving around the picture. A little here, a little there so that the entire picture was being completed in a much more balanced way. I also noticed that working this way I did very little correcting, erasing or re-coloring.

- I'm learning to walk away from the picture. It's easy for me to get lost in a painting. It's so totally absorbing, so fascinating that I lose track of time... and sometimes lose perspective as well. I've noticed that when I take a break, even if it's only 10 or 15 minutes, when I return I see the picture afresh and spot things that I didn't see when I'd been hovering over it like a protective mother hen for two hours.

- My confidence is picking up with every card I complete. I've tried to keep in mind past mistakes that I don't want to repeat, and successes that I do want to repeat. When I look at a reference photo now I find that, with each new experience under my belt, it's becoming easier to visualize the photo as a painting.... with the color and compositional changes it might need to make it a more interesting picture.

- I'm just flat out enjoying switching between, and sometimes mixing, colored pencil and watercolor. I'm experimenting to my heart's delight.... after all, it's only a 4x6 piece of paper, so what if it comes out horribly................. and well, we've already covered this!

- Last, but not least, I've learned that there are lots of really nice people out there who are willing to share painting tips and encourage each other along the way. A sincere "Thank You" to Jeanne Grant who nudged me into this first WC project and who has inspired me with all of her colorful cards. Thanks, Jeanne, it's been a lot of fun already!

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