Following Along

Dear Liza,

Since I have been learning about following where the art leads, I decided to do an experiment. Last week while I was playing with some orange acrylic, I had a big smear of paint left over on the tray. Rather than wash it away, I brushed some on to a textured meat tray and laid down a layer on an empty page.

I had no idea what it would be. I just put it down and went on to other things. The next day I looked, turned the pages in different directions, and looked some more. I saw this slight diagonal line where the two printings overlapped, and it reminded me of the brim of a smartly-worn top hat. So I took my nice fat micron pen and drew in a hat, then a face, and some hair. She reminded me a little of Josephine Baker.

I didn’t know what would come next. I made some more cookies, did a bunch of laundry, and went for a few walks around the neighborhood. I looked at the picture before I went to bed that night, and in the morning I knew how I wanted to go forward.

Collage of circles seemed a fine way to progress, but I wanted to be more precise this time, trimming the bits to fit. The top part of the hat, filled in with the patterns from inside security envelopes, took an hour, but I was happy with it.

I walked away, came back, and did the brim all in one piece, and then the hair, with the swirly pattern found on the inside of Yogi tea boxes. It is soft but curvy and just what I wanted.

I was just about done for the day. Dinner was calling. But from my collection box of papers shone a piece of foil that the Pittman and Davis Company uses to wrap their pears. Et voila. Hat done.

I let the piece sit for a few days, not sure what I wanted it to look like. I knew it should have a deep blue background, both to set off the orange and gold, and to look like night time. Straight blue acrylic paint out of the tube was exactly right. I put in just a bit of blue shading on the hat, and I am pretty happy with it.

It is weird, but that’s just about right. It just shows that you never know where the art will lead.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Beyond Circles

Dear Liza,

When I was starting to paint this year, my goal was to make something look like I wanted, making the picture on the paper match the one in my head. I practiced with flowers and faces, going literally from finger painting to things that mostly looked… right.

Flowers that look like flowers

And now that I can do that, I am experimenting more. The circle cutter Auntie Bridgett loaned me has been my latest toy. I love circles, and am enjoying grouping them together, layering them, and even painting over them.

This week I started with some orange and blue watercolor, then lay down some softly colored circles. It sort of looked like sunset-y clouds. To make it look even cloudier, I put white acrylic paint on very softly with a textured meat tray. It was pretty, but what if…..?

I wanted to keep going with the layers. This is where I am noticing my change in attitude. Instead of thinking “what if I mess this up?”, I realize that so far I have invested a few hours of quarantine time, some old magazines, and a tablespoon of paint. So if I mess it up, NO BIG DEAL.

So I lay on another meat tray textured layer of blue, then a few more circles. I loved the layers and texture, and it was starting to whisper to me as to what it could be. Instead of making the picture in my head first, I was letting it lead me along.

I softened the colors with a bit of white acrylic and added a “hillside”of white tissue paper. The pink circle was in the right place to be a setting sun, but it needed to be more orange. A circle cut from a tea box fixed that.

After staring at what had become a snowy hillside at sunset, I saw that it needed some silhouetted trees. I studied other folks’s work and Auntie Bridgett gave me some pointers, and I went for it. After putting in some close up trees and some further away, adjusting my sky color and putting in some shadows, I am pretty happy with it….. for now. I’ll go do something else and have a look later.

So I guess my lesson of the week is to not limit myself as to “just” the pictures I see in my head. The ones that emerge on the paper can be so much more!

Love,

Grandma Judy