Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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Mixed Up Inky Portraits

I’ve fallen behind with my blog posts. Again. Blah. Blah. Blah. I think it’s that perfectionist critic whining in my ear. Rambling on about how dedicated I used to be posting new blog entries. Keeping up with my art. Etc. Etc. Etc.

So, to keep the little bugger quiet, I’m sharing four mixed up inky portraits that I created a while back during the “Drawn to Expression” workshop.

The idea here was to saturate watercolor paper first with water, then add blobs of ink or watered down paint. While the paper was wet, lines are added to create faces. Black and white portraits were used for reference images.

I did not like these pieces when I first started on them. So I walked away and left them for about a week. When I felt ready to work on these pieces again, I kept the paper relatively dry and added water selectively.

The end result is something I’m much happier with. Materials used include inks, thin acrylic paint, graphite pencil, Marks-all pencil, white pastel.

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Day1MixedUpPortraits2

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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.

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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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Her Name is Cherish

Next up in the Angel painting series, as part of the Angels Among Us online workshop, is “Cherish.”

This painting was created following some of the techniques provided by Deanna Strachan. Deanna was the instructor for week 6.

How did I get to week 6 when the last piece I shared was from week 2? I got bored. The beauty of falling behind in an online class is that you can choose which lessons you want to watch instead of waiting for the upcoming lesson. And since each lesson in Angels Among Us stands alone and is not built one upon the other, you can work chronologically or start wherever you like.

Anyways, I went to Pinterest for inspiration for the sketch of this angel. I found this painting by French artist Louis Treserras. I love this young woman’s face.

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And here is my sketch of this young woman’s face.

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Once the background of my canvas was ready, I transferred this sketch on to the canvas. As with some of the other lessons, it seems to be popular to glue a layer of torn paper onto the canvas first and then paint on top of it. I’m still not sure if I like this technique. It can give you some interesting texture in your background. However, I’ve also had papers peel off and tear away from the canvas. So the jury is still out on this approach.

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Face sketch transferred onto background

Oh yes. Now I remember another thing I don’t like about the torn paper backgrounds. When transferring an image, the texture from the torn papers can sometimes muck up the transfer. In this piece the lines of the sketch weren’t lining up. I had to remove as much of the original transfer as I could and then try again. Poor girl’s nose was looking a little twisted and her eyes uneven. Fortunately I knew I could correct some of this once I started painting her face.

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First layer face paint

One thing that was fun with this lesson was Deanna’s loose approach to painting. My confidence in painting faces is also improving. The combination of loose paint strokes, better paintbrushes, confidence and wet paint was a recipe for success.

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A bold lip color

When I got to this point, I thought I would give her a nice, soft lip color. You know. Angelic like lips. Hah! In Deanna’s lesson she used a magenta color with a small amount of black. I didn’t have the exact same color and ended up with a deep purple tone. I figured I could always change it to something lighter if I found it really repulsive.

I didn’t change it. The color makes a bold statement. Cherish owns those lips!

And then came the wings…

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Now I’m not so sure about this. I think she’s looking more like a fairy than an angel. Not that there is anything wrong with fairies. But this wasn’t quite what I had in mind.

Unfortunately, my brain seemed to be hitting a wall when it came to figuring out a different way to work the wing. It took a few attempts before I finally felt satisfied with it.

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A few more tweaks here and there and then she was complete.

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Her Name Is Cherish

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Cherish


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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.

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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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An Angel Appears

The month of September has come and gone. And with it we officially entered a new phase of life. Gone is the home we lived in for 12.5 years. Sold to a new family who seem to really love it and want to make it their own. It was a busy and stressful month with lots of back and forth between the old homestead and the new, moving out all those things we didn’t need, bringing home items that we wanted, and donating, selling, and tossing stuff in the trash.

Now it is time to breath and get back to the studio.

Today I want to share a newish painting that I created in over summer. In my last post, I mentioned a free tutorial offered by Kara Bullock . This angel painting was inspired by Kara’s tutorial. It is not the subject of her tutorial. I didn’t want to create the exact same thing and simply used it as a springboard for this piece.

An Angel Appears

Since I was thinking about taking Kara’s online class “Angels Among Us” I decided to try my hand at creating an angel painting. I combined some of Kara’s techniques with techniques learned in other classes. Here is the result.

I almost always consider the beginning (and sometimes the middle) of a painting to be the ugly phase. An angel is no exception.

At this point I was relearning how to draw and paint faces. The errors in my face sketch became more evident when I started painting on the details. Eyes too close. Flat features. Asymmetrical. Oh well. It was a good time to move my attention to her gown and wings.

I didn’t realize the challenge of creating angel wings with feathers. When I first added the feather detail, her wings looked like they were hijacked by Spiderman. A fair amount of white paint and paint marker did the trick. More work on her face and her hair. Then, all of a sudden, a pretty angel emerged from the canvas.

Nearly finished...

Nearly finished…

A few final details on her sash and repeating the color around the neckline of her gown really pulled this piece together.

An Angel Appears

An Angel Appears

I did sign up to take Kara’s workshop, “Angels Among Us” and recently started working on the first lesson. I’ll share the results of those pieces in the coming weeks.


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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