Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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Going Back to the Beginning

One of the early exercises in “Let’s Face It” is to look back at some of the face sketches, drawings or paintings that we created early on in our creative journey. It’s a great exercise to remind us of where we started and where we’re going. It will also help us see our progress throughout the course this year.

So I thought it might be amusing to share with you some of my early face drawings and paintings. It’s okay to laugh or cringe at some of these faces. I do the same thing when I look at them.

Turn on the Way Back Machine, Mr. Peabody

These drawings were created about 6 years ago. I was dealing with some health issues and used art to work through that process. This was my self-portrait. The question mark represented not knowing what would come next in this situation.

HowIFeel120110_edited

I hated drawing noses and almost always placed the eyes too high on the head.

Ironically, I made sculptural pieces, my Spirit Messengers and Ornimals, for several years. But many of those pieces had heads/faces that were imaginative and not all were based on humans.

Fast Forward

Now it is 2013. I’m taking a non-art related class though we are creating mandalas or other forms of expression in response to readings. Here I decided to create my first “portraits” in many years.

 

I notice how much I enjoyed creating these pieces. Not anywhere near “perfect” but it reminds me how much I like drawing and painting.

As time progresses, I stop making sculptural pieces and turn my focus to sketching, drawing and painting. I start finding sources with instruction and guidance on drawing faces. (Waaaay too many resources, in fact.)

However, that doesn’t mean lady confidence emerges and my paintings of faces magically appear on the canvas. Hardly.

In these two paintings from 2014, I found myself quite afraid to paint eyes and noses. Again. Instead of taking the risk that I might completely mess up the faces, I found it easier to give the appearance of eyes (or eyelids). That perfectionist voice inside, the one who says “You should know how to do this” appeared to win this round.

Breakthrough

Finally, in 2015, my love of drawing faces and the desire to put in the effort to improve my skill comes full circle. I buy Pam Carricker’s book, “Mixed Media Portraits. I sign up for online classes. I’m invited to participate in a sketching group.

Now the practice begins to pay off.

Where is this leading?

Even though I took art classes during all four years in high school and had a basic knowledge of how to draw a face, I found that it was easier to avoid drawing or painting a face at all costs. Perhaps it was some old memory of being told I “couldn’t” draw that kept me from creating faces. Or old lady perfection who was more worried about screwing up the facial features instead of just playing and experimenting.

What I can say is that if you also love to draw faces, then by all means, draw those faces. There are many resources out there with tips and tricks to get you started. Yes, practice is important, whether it’s every day or a few times a week.

It’s also important, I think, that you try really hard to get past the worry that the face you’re drawing won’t look like whomever. I told myself early on that I wasn’t going for perfect portraiture. I’m developing my own style and you should too. Make your face drawings whimsical. Make them caricatures. Give them green hair and purple eyes. Have fun with it.

In both the “Let’s Face It” class and “Drawn to Expression” I’m feeling better about interpreting the faces in a way that fits my style. Whatever that style is at this time. Finding a “style” or “expression” doesn’t happen overnight for most of us. It takes practice (which, for practice sake, might include copying). It takes having an open mind and a willingness to play and experiment. It’s an ongoing learning process.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Watercolor Angel and Angel for Paris

The second lesson in the Angels Among Us Online Workshop was created by Stacha “The Daydreamerie” Conboy. Stacha is a watercolor artist (watercolorist?) Stacha has an easy-going demeanor and her art is simple and beautiful.

I’ve always admired artists who work in watercolor. To put it plainly, it’s a medium that can be a PIA. Watercolor has its own mind. And it will let you know just that as it meanders across your paper, flowing into areas you don’t want it to go. (Sometimes that is a happy accident. Sometimes it’s an “Oh S***” moment.)

Anyways, I was happy to give this lesson a go. I knew it would be a challenge. It took a while for some old memory yarn to kick-in. The last time I really worked with watercolors was back in high school. Eghad.

Watercolor Angel

As always, we begin with a sketch straight on the watercolor paper.

Next I worked on her wings and hair.

At this point, I wasn’t crazy about her wings. The purple was too saturated. The watercolors ran every-which-way. I just wasn’t getting the hang of using watercolor paints. This was definitely the ugly stage for me.

But I kept plugging along…

Adding color to her face. Now she was starting to come together. It was tricky painting a face on such a small scale. I admit that she does look a little shell-shocked.

From here I started to work a little quicker, adding words and paint to her torso and adding finishing touches to the wings.

7WatercolorAngel_FinishedFull

8WatercolorAngel_FinishedFaceClose

Overall, I’m mostly happy with the way this angel turned out. It was a bit frustrating not to get the hang of working with this medium until I was about half-way finished with the piece.

What I learned was the type of watercolor paper used, the format of the watercolor paints (tube or “cake”) and even the paintbrush all contribute to the quality of the painting. And practice, practice, practice.

Angel for Paris

In the aftermath of the bombings in Paris, I, like many artists, was compelled to create something as an expression of our sadness and empathy for the victims and the citizens of Paris.

The day after the attack, an image came to me while I was getting ready for the day. I picked up a small sketch book, put a rough idea on paper, and transferred it to Bristol paper a few hours later.

The piece below, “Angel for Paris,” is the final result. It incorporates Micron pen, Caran d’Arche pastels, and watercolor.

AngelForParis_1

AngelForParis_FromiPad (1)

 

 


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Frida Inspired Angel

Life has a curious way of distracting us from our other plans. Such as it is with my attempts at blogging on a more consistent basis. However you might define consistent.

Anyways, I finally put my butt in the chair and uploaded the rest of the pictures for my Frida-inspired angel. This is the angel created in the first lesson of Kara Bullock’s “Angels Among Us” online workshop. You can see the first installment here.

Picking up where the previous post left off, here are more work-in-progress (WIP) images and the finished piece.

The initial layers of her face, hair and halo have been painted. Now it was time to sketch in her shoulders, torso, necklace, and wings.

Then came the color of her necklace, dress, and texture for her wings. And a few more tweaks to her face and neck. Of course.

I found a picture of Frida online and in it she is wearing this groovy necklace made of crocheted flowers. That became my inspiration for the necklace in this painting.

At some point, you have to stop focusing on the little details and move on to the background. It’s really easy to obsess over the little details. I lost count of how many layers of paint are on her face. Or how long it took to paint in her hair, adjust the width of each row, and make sure each section landed evenly on both sides of her head.

With the background painted, she really started to pop off of the canvas and the painting finally felt like it was coming together.

10Frida_Background

An Eye Popping Background

From this point I focused on finishing her necklace and making some final adjustments to her dress and face. She had finally come together and I was super happy with how she looked.

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Frida-inspired Angel (cropped)

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Frida-inspired Angel (iPhone version)

I even pulled out my Nikon to take a few pictures of this piece. I’m a little rusty on taking art photos with a digital camera in manual mode. And the location where I set up this painting and my equipment wasn’t ideal. However, the resulting images give a slightly different “feel” to the painting; a more “aged” icon kind of look.

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Frida-inspired Angel (Nikon version 1)

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Frida-inspired Angel (Nikon version 2)

Since this painting was finished, I’ve completed a second lesson creating an angel using watercolors and am in the process of working on another angel using acrylics. I’ll share those with you after the Thanksgiving holiday.


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A New Angel On The Scene

Dropping in here to share my progress on the first Angel I’m creating in Kara Bullock’s Angels Among Us online workshop. The workshop features 6 artists and 12 weeks of inspired creations.

First, here is the sketch of my angel’s face. She looks good on paper. However, will she look the same or even bear any resemblance to this drawing once I put paint onto the canvas?

Angel Face Sketch

Angel Face Sketch

Instead of hoping I might be able to draw her face free-hand on the canvas, I opted to transfer the original sketch directly onto the canvas. Painting her face is challenge enough.

Sketch Transferred to Canvas

Sketch Transferred to Canvas

Okay, first layer of paint and you can see some resemblance to the sketch. Right? Some sort of modern abstract contemporary thing going on here. Face it (haha, no pun intended. Maybe), this is ugly stage. I am digging her turquoise nose however.

First layer of paint

First layer of paint

More layers. Now she’s kind of rockin’ a Picasso look with that dramatic dark eye.

More layers

More layers

At this point I feel like she has too many layers of paint on her face and I need to move onto a different aspect of the painting. Onto adding her hair and a halo. Just because.

Face, Hair, and Halo

Face, Hair, and Halo

Here is what I’ve learned so far.

  • Using a combination of Liquitex and Golden Fluid acrylic paints may not be the best idea.
  • Be careful if you dampen your paintbrush with water, dry it, then paint again. You will pull up a layer (or layers) paint. Then Angel face looks like she has age marks on her cheeks.
  • Put enough paint on your palette. This is still a challenge for me. I seem to have this mental block between squeezing enough paint onto my palette, not wanting to waste paint, and seeing dollar symbols rise from the paint puddle. You know the issue: “I paid a lot of money for this paint. I can’t waste it!”
  • Using a paint extender can counteract the above problem. And, covering the left over paint with some plastic wrap kept it viable for painting later or the next day.

Angel Face still has a ways to go. I’m way behind in this online workshop. Haven’t even attempted the other lessons yet. Fortunately, we have “lifetime” access to the videos. Maybe I’ll be all caught up by the end of the year.


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The Challenge of Drawing

I recently joined Craftsy’s 31-Day Drawing Challenge. Well, “joined” may not be the best word. I’m not submitting what I create on the Craftsy site. Rather, I’m sharing my drawings on my Facebook page and here in blog-o-land.

So what is this “challenge” exactly? If you go to the above link, you’ll see that Craftsy has provided a prompt for each day in August. Interpret the prompt in any way you want. Yes, the suggested format is drawing. But if you’re not into drawing or sketching, then write a poem, make some music, do an interpretative dance, take a picture. Paint a picture. Let the prompt inspire your creative muse. The format isn’t important. Letting your creative juices flow is!

My challenge is trying not to be too literal with the prompts. That’s probably why I made it through the first three and haven’t picked up my sketchbook since then. That and well, just setting aside the time. I’m trying not to put pressure on myself as I find myself falling behind (uh, oh, see the tiny beads of sweat breaking out on my forehead.)

That making time thing and just doing it, well that’s a post for another day.

Anyways, here are my interpretations for the first three prompts:

Grow” Inspired by the baby robins that were in a nest outside our kitchen window.

Grow

Grow

In Bloom” The Black-Eyed Susans are bursting in our yard.

Black Eyed Susan

Black Eyed Susan

Flutter” This brought several images to mind. Butterflies. Wings. Eyelashes. I chose a large turkey feather as inspiration.

Fluttering Feathers

Fluttering Feathers

What will you create with the prompts in the 31-Day Challenge?


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“Free Painting”-The Spirit Dance Series

I don’t know what happens when I free paint. I don’t know what moves me-the music playing in the background, the silly dance moves I make in the studio, the meditation, the Hara breathing or the Reiki. Sometimes it just flows and there it is.

I step back and I’m looking, looking, looking at the canvas. “What do I see?” “What should go there?” And then an image might appear. Or a color. Or shape comes to mind and I paint it. I don’t always trust it but I go with it. I’ve learned over the years that if I try to control where a piece wants to go, it comes out crappy. If I just follow its lead, then we might get something interesting. I try not to let the negative voice invade my space. If and when it does, I move on to something else. Come back later. It has no place here.

The Series

These paintings are inspired by a trip to the Peche Merle caves, near Cabrerets, France. I had the opportunity to visit these glorious caves in June as part of an art workshop. Inside the caves are paintings; horses, bison, mammoth. Some of the paintings are more than 25,000 years old. When we returned from this field trip, we began to paint. Mark making really. And out of the marks emerge images. And as is typical of my paintings lately, spirit figures emerge. Hence the name “Spirit Dance.” Below are the first two pieces.

Spirit Dance 1

Spirit Dance 1

Spirit Dance 2

Spirit Dance 2


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Ancestors

One of the paintings that I started in my class with Flora Bowley is finally complete. This piece is called “Ancestors.” The title was came to me while I was doing some research into my family history. Here are several pictures that document this painting’s evolution.

Wet on Wet

Wet on Wet

FirstCanvas_FirstCoolLayer

FirstCanvas_MoreCoolLayers

FirstCanvas_FinalWarmLayer

FirstCanvas_BlackandWhiteValue

FirstCanvas_TranslucentLayer

FirstCanvas_AddingImages

Adding an Angel

Adding an Angel

Face appears

Face appears

Buh-buh angel

Buh-buh angel

Ancestors in process

Ancestors in process

Ancestors_Orb_Cross

Ancestors_BirdTail_Orb_Cross

Ancestors_Bird_Orb_Cross

Ancestors_CrossandFace

Ancestors_Bird_Stars

Ancestors_Stars_Bird_Orb_Cross

"Ancestors"  18"x24" acrylic Amy A. Crawley, 2014

“Ancestors”
18″x24″ acrylic
Amy A. Crawley, 2014