Five to Try: Tackling Number 4 for January!

I went to my art class again last night at Carrollwood Cultural Center. As you may remember, I’m taking a Sample Media course with its instructor Gainor Roberts, and the beauty of this class is the opportunity to try working with a variety of art media. It’s a good way to find out which ones you actually enjoy working with before making a big supply investment. The past two weeks were spent exploring the world of oil painting, and after my magenta-gold floral number, I went celestial last week. As promised, here is the final product (that’s its respective mini-me beside it, my inspirational photo…)

Okay, no, I’m not expecting to get a call from MOMA later today, but I am happy with my attempt to capture the essence of it.

One thing I am discovering about myself (among many) is that although I love to look at a variety of styles of art, clearly I gravitate toward impressionism and trying to capture the mood and essence of a piece rather than anything remotely realistic. That may just be because of lack of ability to create anything that looks even a little bit like the original, but I am noticing that despite my lack of knowledge, when I paint, I’m always trying to create the different shades and shadows and feelings that my inspiration photo is giving (in this case, light, billowy and dreamy) so as long as I accomplish that, I’m happy. I’d still rather look at my photo which I really love but I’m okay with how it turned out. And I have to keep reminding myself that with this class as with any of the new things I’m setting out to learn or try, that it is exactly that – a learning experience, not art to be critiqued or a short story to be analyzed or a recipe to be dissected in a food review, etc. It’s about being in that moment – feeling, tasting, smelling, being right in the thick of things as part of the process (regardless of the outcome)…

So this week, I tackled # 4 on the big 5 to Try January list… I learned about Acrylic Painting

FIVE TO TRY, JANUARY – #4 Acrylic Painting

As our teacher summarized all of the different things we should know about acrylic painting – it dries quickly, watch those paint brushes because the paint will dry up and ruin those, too, if you’re not using water frequently enough, etc. – I began to get a little scared. There were so many things to be on the lookout for. And I have to admit – I arrived on just two and a half hours sleep the night before, did surprisingly well working on such little sleep all day, but had not been able to sneak a nap in so as she ran through the list of all of these precautions, my mind decided to take a little trip somewhere else (perhaps to escape the scary world of acrylics that appeared to be looming around the corner).

When it was time to paint, I wondered if my la-la land lollygagging would leave me baffled at the canvas. And you know what? I actually enjoyed it… as crazy tempermental as acrylic paints seem to be, I enjoyed working with them. And found two qualities of acrylics positively endearing – the ease of combining them to create such interesting colors and most of all…  CLEAN HANDS!!  When I was done last night, I had a little paint on my hands but not on my wrist and my palm and my face and everywhere else…  a little wiping with some water and I was back to the beginning – no paint in sight. It was so much easier to work with for me than oils – again, I may be an exception but I am an exceptional mess when it comes to painting. But I so appreciated being able to leave without feeling like I had cannonballed into my palette blobs.

Wanna see what we did? My fellow students were kind enough to let me peek over their shoulders to capture some of their completed work and works in progress… We were short one of our compadres tonight, Bonnie, but here’s a little glance into the classroom last night.

Ellen tackles her floral beauty…

Jennie is trying to replicate a painting she liked on the wall of her daughter’s home. You should have seen it before we closed up for the night. She’s used texture to make  eye-popping polka dots…coming along great.

I didn’t get to capture Beth’s creation in progress last night – she was filling in the detailed center of the piece when I was photographing, but finally did get to take some shots of her great oil work so far (two at right). Really love what she does with backgrounds.

And then there’s me. My inspiration was easy. I have four favorite landscapes that thrill me like no other. A golf course, a sunrise or sunset over water, the nighttime sky in a dark, rural part of the country where dark is truly dark, and… the ballpark. I love everything about the look, feel, smells, sounds, EVERYTHING about a ballpark. And I happened to snap a bold, colorful shot of the Marlins’ stadium a little over 4 years ago before the game started. I liked the inviting feel of the photo – step right down and join the fun, take in the colors, be a part of something. So my goal was to try to re-create the photo. I’m almost afraid to share just yet because it’s a shot taken much too close up for my level of painting but mainly because none of the details are in here. I’ve since redone some of the green in the fields, added cement down the center aisle and elsewhere but I still have seats, people, cupholders, the walkway steps and hand rails, etc. to add to the piece. And this I plan to do next week… so don’t laugh too hard.

I’m reminded weekly that the whole reason I’m doing this is to explore another creative side of myself, not to change my line of work. And I think that’s a good thing that I remember that because otherwise I would also need to change my diet solely to rice and Vienna sausages if my income relied on my painting skills (made even more difficult by my being a vegetarian). This is getting more and more depressing…let’s leave this train of thought now, shall we?

The teacher who is of course much more skilled and efficient a painter than the rest of us whipped up this baby in the first hour of class.

Yes, she’s definitely in the right line of work.

Next week, we continue our adventures in acrylic and you know what? Time really flew last night and as the teacher pointed out for herself as well, it was so easy to get lost in what we were doing and forget about everything else on our minds and on our plates at home. And isn’t that really the whole point?

So provided there isn’t any kind of natural disaster that overtakes my stadium next week, I’ll invite you out for an early ballgame. Until then, keep stepping outside your comfort zone. And don’t be afraid to get a little paint on yourself, too.

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