Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Celebrate Your Creative Self
The past few weeks I've been making a conscious effort to work with different materials and in different ways. To help with that goal I ordered a book through interlibrary loan, and luckily for me it came from a campus in the UW system, and I had the book for a month. The title is Celebrate Your Creative Self, by Mary Todd Beam. In some ways the book was frustrating. Often she went through a project step by step, only to show an end picture that had nothing to do with the previous photos. Sometimes she would go through all the steps for creating an interesting background, only to not show any finished project at all. But in many ways the book was good for me. I limited myself to four fluid acrylic colors, plus black and white gesso, and also four very similar watercolors. That meant the dozen or so projects I completed all coordinated with one another, and I really learned how those colors behaved, both alone and blended. I was also happy because I only bought a few items; most were already in my stash of materials.
For me, working through many of the book's projects, which emphasized large, loose, colorful and expressive work, had me using materials I wasn't comfortable with. Most of the paintings were done on illustration board, which I learned to like because it doesn't buckle or need support. I rarely used acrylic before, and most of the paintings I did from the book used that medium. I have bought flats for workshops in the past, but rarely used them. For these paintings I almost never reached for my smaller round brushes. I had never used gesso to create opaque shades and tints, and I had never used heavy gel medium to create texture when I was working on watercolor paper.
I had fun working in a new way. I finally used up all the illustration board I had bought, so I started playing with new techniques on scraps of foamcore. These two small paintings (8x8 inches each) were painted on leftover foamcore. I coated the lightweight board with acrylic varnish to seal it before I started working, and the results look like tiles, though much lighter. I'm thinking they would look good with wide mats, the images floated so the result is almost like a shadow box. A bonus, my husband, who likes his art representational, likes these images. Good thing too, since the book goes back to the library tomorrow.