Yesterday I told you that I had made two sketches of a dandelion, and only used one. Here is what I did (and learned) with the other one.
I put in watercolor green for the distant lawn, but it looked flat and not ‘distant’. And the fence wasn’t right.
But I fiddled with it. I think this ‘fiddling’ is what they call The Artistic Process. Auntie Bridgett showed me how to shade the grass so it would recede, and I played with the fence to make the boards look more like boards.
By the time I was mostly happy with it, Grandpa Nelson was ready to go for a walk. We enjoyed the cool fall sunshine, changing leaves, and tiny weeds growing from our latest rains.
And then I saw it. My mistake.
I had drawn a dandelion and put on the wrong leaf! Dandelions are so-called because someone thought their leaves looked like the tooth of a lion (dent du Leon). And I had put in a leaf that was more of a langue du chat. Could I fix it?
I could try. I picked a leaf and took it home to trace. I cut and colored and placed them as best I could over the wrong leaves. And it is better.
My mother always said that since we got smarter when we made mistakes, she must be the smartest woman on the planet. Today, I learned about leaves, paying attention to details, my own capacity for patience, and the myriad ways to correct errors.
I am still making a new piece of art each day for the Art-Ober mixed media challenge. Subjects like “cactus” and “stripes” tickle my brain! And as I gain confidence, I am willing to paint scenes I never would have tried a few months ago.
While this is all happening, I got a note from the wonderful woman who is caring for my big brother Tim. “I don’t want to tell you what to do, but I’ve got about ten small frames from the Dollar Store…” she said. Ah ha! A project!
So I went through the pictures I’ve done so far, picked my favorites, and made smaller copies to fit into her frames.
Tim has always been an outdoorsy type, fishing and hiking and such, so I chose scenes of flowers and forests.
This picture of a pair of jack rabbits nibbling on a sage brush reminds me so much of our old campsite at Vallecito, it makes me homesick. Great Grandpa Lowell took us there for about a dozen Easter vacations, enjoying the desert before it got too hot.
I made sure to write my name clearly in the pictures, so Tim could remember where they came from and know I am thinking of him.
I hope he enjoys them! I will make more and send them off. You can make me pictures, if you like. I’ll bet I could get some frames from the Dollar Store, too.
Since I retired from teaching, my brain is like a kid in kindergarten, always finding something new. I opened a cupboard and found things to write about, so I wrote… for months and months.
Then I opened another cupboard and there was fabric, so I sewed.
And now I have found the paint cupboard. First gouache, then watercolors. And, like a kindergartener, I have friends with ideas that feed my ideas. “Come join my painting group,” said Ruthie. I did, and it has been wonderful. Art, silliness, and learning all come together in the magic proportions that teachers strive for.
I posted the islands I was painting and dear Elaine said, “I’ll bet you could put those islands on fabric, and maybe even quilt them.” Well, it turns out that you can paint on fabric with regular acrylic paints if you add a bit of “gac” paint medium. Auntie Bridgett had some, because of course she did.
I spent a day looking at maps of all the islands I love. The Big Island of Hawaii. Tom Sawyer’s Island at Disneyland. Treasure Island from Robert Louis Stevenson. Tiny Gabriola Island in the Strait of Georgia. Neverland. Sketch, reconsider, sketch.
And finally I started painting my first fabric island. After smooth gouache and watercolors, the acrylic and muslin felt heavy and clumsy, but I kept at it.
I am still not totally happy with it, but I will get better if I just keep practicing. It seems a bit flat. Hmmmmm… Maybe I can add embroidery or even some beads. Maybe my friends will give me some good ideas.
I have been telling you about how life has changed during the corona virus shut down, including re-connecting with my old friend Ruth Inman. She is now an artist, and she lives in Illinois. She does a lot of different kinds of art, and her website is called Brush with Many Colors. You should go have a look sometime.
Ruth has started an on-line art group using ZOOM, and I have been attending two times a week. At first I thought I would just watch and chat, because I have never had much confidence in my art skills. I have a tremor that makes my right hand unreliable at times, which makes it even more frustrating.
But Ruth is such an easy going teacher! She gives good directions but then adds, “But if it does this instead, you can make it work by doing this..” and knowing there are lots of ways to do it right has let me feel more confident. I started painting.
I am using the watercolors we found on the sidewalk years ago, so there’s not much of an investment, except time, which I have plenty of.
This art class has happened just when I wanted to start making cards and writing letters for the elderly residents at Laurelhurst Village Home nearby, and I have started using the flowers I paint with Ruth and her friends for the cards!
Voila, as the French say.
I have someone to teach me, a way to practice, and a place for my pictures to go and make people smile. It’s a very nice combination.