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

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Crocus ATC - with goals!

Posting a series of WIP's for an ATC (Artist Trading Card). Sorry the lighting isn't too good. With the flash turned off it was a little dark; with the flash turned on it washed all of the color out, so I opted for no flash (the glare you see is from my desk lamp. Oh..... in the photo just above you can partly see Bailey- Studio Supervisor, Resident Muse and Faithful Studio Companion!

I did this ATC with several definite goals in mind:

1. Keep it light! In other words, don't saturate or darken too quickly.
2. Try out a new surface
3. Don't be a slave to the ref photo
4. Use a limited palette
5. Have fun!

How did I do? Not too bad.

- I applied color very consciously, instead of rushing in and having to remove color later. I kept a light hand and enjoyed not having to lift any color from the image. I also liked getting it to a certain point before I started adding deeper values... made it easier to see where to put those values.

- I did this ATC (2.5 x 3.5) on 300 Series Bristol - Smooth Finish. And they're not kidding about the Smooth Finish either! I usually work on Stonehenge, which is great but has tiny surface irregularities that are sometimes undesirable. I'm looking for something smoother than Stonehenge. I like the way the CP goes on with this paper, but it won't take nearly as many layers as I'm used to. This is probably too smooth, but I'm glad I tried it. Since I bought a little packet of these (and I have 19 left) there no doubt be a few more!

- Though I stuck pretty much to the photo while sketching and getting started, when I got the basics in I covered up the photo, analyzed the value patterns and placed deeper values where I wanted them. It felt good to toss the photo and work as I liked.

- Limited palette. This was much more helpful than I realized it would be. I'm in the habit of pulling whatever color I want, when I want. Sometimes that may be too many colors and too busy. I stuck with just nine colors for this project (a minimalist record for me!). I used Imperial Violet, Violet, Mulberry, Blue Slate, Canary Yellow, Spanish Orange, Pumpkin Orange, Sap Green and Limepeel (all Prismas except for the Lyra Sap Green). I selected the pencils based only on color. I enjoyed having a limited palette - somehow felt freer than pulling untold numbers of colors at random. With color selection out of the way, I could concentrate on other things.

- Have fun? Oh, Yes!

January Newspaper Column

A Lesson from the TV

At twelve years old his face was the essence of youth’s beauty. He slept, dark lashes fanned out in a delicate half circle against the lightly tanned perfection of his smooth skin. Only the blood, a jolting stain of cruel red on the white sheet gave any indication that he would not awaken. His brother, shoulders bowed, bent to scoop up the youth. To the older brother fell the task of returning the child to their mother.

The news segment caught my attention, and I had stood, not wanting to see but unable to turn away, as I watched two doctors in a poorly equipped hospital work frantically to save the boy. There was no reponse.

"He’s dead." said one doctor. The resignation in his voice revealed a soul-weariness from making that pronunciation too many times. The other doctor wordlessly pulled up the sheet.

The brother cradled the boy against his chest and carried him to his mother. She was waiting. Tears fell as her child was placed into her arms. The same arms that held him as a baby; arms that had loved him, fed him, clothed him and cuddled him. A mother's arms the boy no longer felt, nor would again.

I gazed, heartsick, at the screen. One of the world’s many war casualties had a face. A sweet innocent face. The face of a child loved by his mother, and one that was the the same age my own children once had been, and not that long ago it seemed. I tried to imagine myself in her position. It was an uncomfortable feeling and I quickly retreated from my imaginings.

Today is Monday. I had had an off weekend. An incident took place that had left me wrestling with feelings of anger and irritation. Someone I didn’t even know had made a couple of comments to me... comments that I considered rude and out of line, and my temper had immediately flared. I told myself I should be sensible and handle the matter rationally and with a good dose of common sense- even graciousness. But it’s difficult to be gracious when you’re angry.

I thought back to the images I had seen. They would not leave me. I thought of the young child’s death, of his mother’s wrenching grief... and of my petty grievance. Ashamed, I suddenly realized that’s exactly what it was: petty. Not even worth five minutes of my time.

Sometimes life has a way of snapping you to reality, rearranging your priorities and giving you new eyes to see with. Deep inside me a prayer formed for the mother who had lost so much. My heart went out to her.

Television had made one family’s private moment of grief very public. And it was by sheer chance that I had been witness to it. A chance viewing, lasting maybe two or three minutes, and yet its effect was powerful. I was no longer angry. I realized I had much to be thankful for, and little to complain about.

Copyright 2009, Teresa Houston. No part of this may be reproduced in any form without prior written consent of the author.
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