In September of last year, my husband and I attended Autumn on the Prairie, at Natchusa, a nature preserve. While there, I met a group of painters. I learned that they get together when the weather is agreeable to paint in various areas in the region. I have to admit that I was interested. My family has been prodding me to get back into painting. I have a collapsible easel and a chair. I have many acrylic paints and brushes, not to mention canvases.
I planned to practice painting during the winter. As with many of my plans, it didn’t happen. Since the Fall, I have only finished one painting. I did it for my granddaughter’s birthday. When she was at St. Joseph hospital because of her headaches, I told her I was thinking of an Amazon warrior winning the battle. That image remained in my head and I actually turned it into a painting. Drawing IS NOT my talent. I was amazed when the image I drew on the canvas actually looked like a girl. The drawing of the unicorn DID NOT go as well. The finished painting is something that I’m not ashamed of — strong Amazon, winning the battle. I wouldn’t call it a great work of art, but considering the artist, I don’t think it needs to be hidden. It is hanging in our granddaughter’s bedroom.
I painted in acrylic. I used a glass for a pallet and cleaned it off many times. I also cleaned the brushes many times and renewed the paint many times. I had access to running water in our sink. I thought about the steps I took in the painting as I considered painting on location.
Our granddaughter had a set of Arteza brush pens at the hospital. The colors were vibrant and she shared her talent with many of the other patients. The more I thought about that set, the more I considered getting my own. Taking it with me with a sketch pad to an open air painting session sounded like a plan. At least for the first excursion. I can always take paints later. I can also return to the camper and using my materials convert the sketch to a painting.
My daughter suggested I take the pens and a sketch pad to the Garden and try doing a sketch. I just need good weather!
It didn’t make any sense! Why should I be afraid to pick up a paint brush? Buy paint and canvas? Try to paint a picture in acrylic? Okay, I’ll admit that it has been many years since I have tried to paint a whole picture. I’ve dabbled with paint a couple of times, but not with any purpose or effort. I have a couple of tiny canvasses up. I might have been encouraging my grandchildren to paint. I really don’t remember.
Hanging on the walls –I have quite a few large canvases that remind me that I was able to actually paint a picture that I was proud of. Just last week I unearthed a satchel that held many books that contained painting ideas that I brought to life. So why was I frightened? It wasn’t as if someone had asked me to do a painting. I didn’t have a job that offered money for a finished work of art. I wasn’t planning on entering an art show. There was no pressure to put paint on canvas. Except my family kept encouraging me to paint again. Was I afraid I would let them or myself down?
Since we closed up the camper for the fall, channel 20 quit broadcasting programs that I enjoyed — I have discovered another PBS station that runs programs by five different artists five days a week. When I discovered I was able to paint many years ago, I watched Bill Alexander and his mighty brush. Many of the ways I painted trees and mountains came from his ideas. I painted in oil. These artists use a mixture of mediums — oil, acrylic, mixed. Their techniques are mixed also. I have watched — trying to learn, inspire.
My husband has emphysema and there is an odor to oil and the solvent used to clean brushes, etc. I thought it would be better to paint in Acrylic, it was fast drying and odorless. The texture of the paint is different. I’ve learned that Acrylic is available not only in tubes but also in liquid. It can be used similar to watercolor. As if I wasn’t confused enough! Although I played with watercolors a couple of times — I’m not skilled. Nor do I have the talent for drawing. When I painted in oil, I was surprised that the paintings I tried, turned out as well they did.
I finally gave in — I saw a mountain and waterfall scene that I thought I would try. I bought a large canvas, paints — and began. I painted a mountain that I wasn’t unhappy with. That is as far as I got that day. The next weekend, canvas on an easel, water in containers, brushes out — plans changed. Instead of trees and a waterfall — rough ocean water came into being with a couple of waves. The small mountains became more imposing. My sky was already in motion — clouds racing. ROUGH WATER was born. Finished? I’m not sure. It still needs to be signed.