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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Friday Featured Artist: Maria Pace Wynters

This week’s featured artist is Maria Pace Wynters. Maria is a mixed-media artist from Canada. I first saw her art on Ivy Newport’s blog, GraceandIvy.

I love Maria’s use of color in her paintings and the childlike innocence in many of her portraits. Simply yummy work here.

Check out Maria’s blog and her art here.

Happy Friday!

MariaPaceWynters_faith-trust-and-pixie-dust


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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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Youth, Maiden, Mother, Crone

I don’t remember when I first heard the word “crone” in reference to older women. I do remember, however, thinking it was a horrible word. Just what an older woman wants to be called-a “crone.” Seemed to rank right up there with the words “spinster,” “hag,” and “old lady.”

Ironically, I find myself now facing that “crone” phase of life. It is a time of life that I am doing my best to embrace.

So where do the names come from? They seem to originate from Pagan or Wicca traditions. The Maiden is the young girl or woman who is full of enthusiasm, youthful ideas, and new beginnings. The Mother represents fertility, abundance, and growth. Finally, there is The Crone, the wise woman. Each phase represents a specific period in a woman’s life.

Prior to starting Flora Bowley’s Bloom True online class, I started painting on an 8″x11″ canvas. After I applied the initial layers of paint, my inner voice said to me “Crone. The name of this piece is Crone.”

Um, okay. I was simply calling it “Three Yellow Orbs.”

“And add a circle of cream colored paint right there” my inner voice said as I looked at the wet canvas.

Here is the canvas with the initial layers (when this conversation happened.) Do you see what my inner voice was telling me?

3YellowOrbs_8x10_Pt1

I’ve learned over time that listening to my inner voice, my intuition, is usually a good thing. The trick is not to react emotionally to that voice. I try my best to say “okay” or “hmm” first; to at least acknowledge it.

The next day I came back to the canvas and went to work. I let my intuition guide the process-choosing colors, writing words, adding paint and removing paint. The word “crone” stayed fixed in my mind, as did the words “youth,” “maiden,” and “mother.”

Finally, the painting was finished. I didn’t want to add any more lines or words or images. Here is what was appeared on the canvas.

Youth, Maiden, Mother, Crone (top third of painting)

Youth, Maiden, Mother, Crone (top third of painting)

Middle third of painting

Middle third of painting

Bottom third of painting

Bottom third of painting

Youth Maiden Mother Crone (Amy A. Crawley, 2014)

Youth Maiden Mother Crone
(Amy A. Crawley, 2014)

I really have no idea what some of the various marking and shapes mean. I’m not sure if it has to mean anything. It simply is.

If you’d like to read more about these phases of a woman’s life, check out The Three Stages of a Woman’s Life by Linda E. Savage.

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I’m now into the second week of Flora’s online class. I’m learning a lot and having several a-ha moments. I’ll share my progress in my next blog post.


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Experiments in Intuitive Painting

A year ago, in February, I pulled some muscles in my back and spent several weeks recovering. I call that time period the “Universe tried to kick me in the a** and missed” month. During that February, I spent time learning about  St. Hildegard of Bingen. One of the practices I engaged in was creating mandalas or other forms of painting images inspired by daily readings and prompts.

It was during this time that I reawakened my love of painting and sketching. I also became more intrigued with using words or phrases as the catalyst for the pieces I created.

Fast forward several months. I’m pondering what direction my art wants to take me. Polymer clay is still my first love. But, realistically, sculpting is not agreeing with my hands. After a few hours, I can feel my thumb joints starting to ache. I am reminded of that time in February. I find an old email that contains a video interview with Chris Zydel of Creative Juices Arts. I remember being intrigued with the concept of intuitive painting the first time I heard about Chris and her work.

I start poking around the Internet for information on intuitive painting. Fortunately, I didn’t have to go too far down that rabbit hole before I found Flora Bowley’s website. I’m drawn in by what I see & read.

A few clicks later and I’ve ordered her book and some tempera paints to play with.

As my holiday show schedule came to a close, I set aside some time to read Flora’s book and play with my paints. I chose the tempera paints because they’re relatively inexpensive and figured it would be a good place to start playing with this form of painting. I also didn’t want to waste the few acrylic paints I did have on this experiment.

So I pulled out an unused watercolor pad, tore off a few pages, and began to play. Here are the first few intuitive paintings I created using those tempera paints.

Experiments with Tempera Paint

Intuitive Painting #1

Intuitive Painting #1

Intuitive Painting #2

Intuitive Painting #2

Angels in the Mist

Angels in the Mist

Flying Blue

Flying Blue

Tempera paints are, um, interesting. They dry pretty quick and don’t mix well unless you immediately put wet paint on top of wet paint. Granted the watercolor paper probably wasn’t the best substrate. But, you rock what you’ve got when you’re experimenting and playing with a new medium.

The Acrylics Arrive

A Christmas gift to myself was a sampler set of Liquitex soft body acrylics, plus a few other assorted colors, and a new assortment of paint brushes. Now I was ready to give this intuitive painting play some serious attention.

Here are two pieces in progress using the acrylic paints. Each is on a 5″x7″ canvas panel.

"Cellular"

“Cellular”

"Two Faces"

“Two Faces”

The acrylics are, for the most part, fun to use. The colors are more vibrant and tend to blend better than the temperas. I am having some interesting results when I spray water on the Liquitex paint. It often lifts right off the canvas, leaving behind either small water spots or larger blank spots. Sometimes the color layer underneath is retained. Sometimes it pulls right down to the white canvas.

I consider it a happy “accident” and try to work the effect into the overall painting. After all, I am trying to do this intuitively.

During this time I also signed up for Flora’s online course, BloomTrue

It was a slightly spontaneous decision. I had read about the course last fall. Then a couple friends recently told me about their experience taking the class. It started to feel like the Universe was putting it out there for me to make a choice. So I listened. Class starts February 10. I can’t wait to delve deeper into the process and share more paintings with you.


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An Empty Studio Is Like An Empty Canvas

Last week the cleaning company was here to inspect my studio carpet and to remove the water stains left by this winter’s ice dam damage. The thought of a cleaning company coming into the studio caused a bit of anxiety in me. This meant I’d have to pick up, pack up, and clean out the studio.

Arrrgggghhhh!

Here is a picture of my studio’s current layout:

Now you understand part of my dilemma. Like any good artist, I have a LOT of stuff. The thought of packing and moving artwork, books, tools, etc is enough to send shivers down my spine. Where are those fairy godmothers when you need them?

Well, I’ll save the fancy carriage and all for later….

Anyways, with a little “Bibbidi, Bobbidi, Boo” over a few days, the books were packed, artwork stored, and tables moved.

Soon the studio looked like this:

and

My studio was transformed into a nearly empty space. An empty space that now felt a little intimidating, like staring at a blank canvas and not knowing what to do with it.

Clearing out the studio has had its benefits. As I packed each box, I was forced to decide if I want to keep all this stuff. Sometimes, I would set aside some items before the box was packed. If not, I told myself I’d have to go through the box when it is unpacked and thin the art herd.

Since the studio is scheduled to be painted in the coming weeks. I can’t move everything back into it. Only essential items are allowed (and other things I’ll have to go digging to find them.) This too has been a good practice because I’m getting used to having fewer items out and around me. It opens more space physically and creatively. I know from past experience that the more cluttered my studio, the more cluttered my head, and the harder it is for me to be creative.

Here is my current, temporary layout:

This period between carpeting cleaning and studio painting is a good time to try some different layouts. It is a little too early to say whether I like this layout or not. I do like having my primary work table facing into the studio. Not sure about the L formed with the other tables. And of course I haven’t thought too much about the other floor lamps and stacks of storage drawers that are still hidden away and how they’d fit into this layout. (Or maybe they don’t and I’ll condense the materials.)

So here I am with a half finished canvas. I’m open to hearing your thoughts. Seen any studios that inspire you? If so, post a link in the comments section. Silly me packed my artist studio books & magazines.