Sunday, October 12, 2008

Another painterly weekend

Well, my husband was out of town this weekend - so i had no excuse not to get busy doing something fun and creative. I started off going crazy at a art supply warehouse sale - Savoir Faire - an importer of Sennelier pastels and Fabriano paper was clearing out excess stock - practically in my own backyard! I never even knew they existed - and right here in Novato.
Well my neighbor Z and I got there around 9:45 and clearly had missed the early bird rush. there was a sea of middle aged ladies - i guess every middle aged lady in the county is an artist? anyway - there was still a lot to choose from. I bought pastels, charcoal, two packs of jumbo sized mulberry paper, some japanese note paper and envelopes, and some paint brushes and other goodies.
They also import a line of felted accessories from Nepal - so i got two adorable purses and some wool pom poms to do with i don't know what. But something cute.

So all this art supply exposure was bound to inspire me to create something. I had a plan. I had two large canvases in the garage collecting dust i wanted to transform. They were painted years ago when i was just starting out and was in my "musician" period. Now i am in a blue period and obsessed with birds - so why not paint over them?
So i did. I used the paint samples from our living room makeover this summer for the backgrounds. We tested three shades of robin's egg blue and chose the one that is the most grey blue of the three. I kind of regret not going with more of an aqua, but we agreed at the time is was too pretty for a living room. But i still love the color so why not start with that.

I saw a painting in Elle Decor magazine i wanted to try, shown above. It is by Kathleen Markowitz. Her website has nothing like this piece, mostly dark abstracts, so i could not get a better view of this painting. So i googled dove drawings to get a better idea how to paint one.
First step was to paint the clouds. they look easy but can be so hard to get just right. I started with wisps of white paint, then added some grey, then some aqua to create depth. A touch of ochre too. They just kept dabbing on paint until i liked the effect. Having a gallon of the background paint made it easy to go back in and cover anything i didn't like.

Eventually they started to look somewhat realistic. Next came the big moment - painting the dove. In the inspiration piece the bird was quite ethereal.
In a way that makes it harder to draw - it is great for a master like picasso to do a simple line drawing of a dove - but if i do it, it will just look childish. And therein lies the challenge of the amateur artist. Does my work look impressionistic or just bad?

Some of the dove images i saw on-line included an olive branch - so i thought why not add one. I plucked some leaves off a vine (as you can see i was working on my patio) and glued them onto the painting with gel medium.

For the next piece, i wanted to re-use the idea of insetting something into the canvas, as i learned in a worshop i took with Carine, i wrote about here.
I have a bunch of fake bird nests and eggs - and i thought how cool to cut a hole in the canvas and stick it in, creating a three dimensional effect. I cut an x with a sharp utility knife and then more slits until a rough circle was cut. Go easy - you don't want your cuts to be too big. I put globs of gel medium on the triangle points and pushed the nest into place.

Next i went looking for some wire. In my mind i wanted rusty barbed wire - to give the piece some juxtaposition between the softness of the eggs and the hardness of the wire. But i could not find any in the garage. (seriously - it isn't like my husband is a ranch hand and keeps extra fencing materials next to the christmas ornaments - but it didn't hurt to look) I did find some copper wire - that at least was easy to wrap around the canvas. I painted on three birds. They looked really dumb. I must have done something wrong. back to google to find images of birds on wires. I had made the tails too wide and the heads to pointy. A bit of touch up paint and they were perfect.
Next i added a bit of extra twigs around the nest to make it look more painted on. It really does look painted - you have to get close to see it is a real nest!

Here it is hanging over the living room sofa. It looks stark in the photo - but looks cool in person. What do you think?


Shonna said...

Beautiful paintings! I loved reading about your process!

Dianne said...

These bird paintings are just charming...I especially like the dove, but adding the nest and wire in the second one was inspired!

thanks for stopping by my blog, I hope you'll visit again soon. I will be back here again, too...