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Friday, March 6, 2015

Layering the good, the bad, and the watercolors...

It's been a painting day so far!!!
 I spent the morning warming up with some colorful backgrounds...

Then I decided to do some magazine coloring - with gesso - it's a trick I learned a while ago and it's so much fun and simple enough.  You start by ripping out some photos from magazines that might be fun to color in.
Then, I mix together a combination of acrylic gesso, matte medium, and water, painting a light wash over each photo.
When the gesso combination dries, you get these nifty coloring pages that you can paint on, draw on, etc. - like an artist's coloring book!  
It helps to pick a photo where you can see very prominent facial features.
I prefer to use watercoloring crayons, pencils and pastels because I think it makes the photo look more whimsical.
I started with the watercoloring pencils and such, and then added some finishing touches with acrylics.
Anything goes with these, and the cool part about getting the paper really wet is that sometimes it can tear in very odd places, making it look quite antiqued.
When they dry, I love placing them in my paintings with fun whimsical backgrounds - and then the possibilities are endless!

These are some paintings where I've used them before:
"Dancing On Shattered Glass"

"Woman With The Growing Trees"
Then I got out some old canvases I wanted to do something with and I played around with placing the images on each canvas - seeing if anything could possibly go together...
This took quite a bunch of trial and error - there is no "right answer" with art obviously, so it was hard to trust my judgment...
This was an old painting I messed around with years ago - all done with my fingers!
I tried placing these...but nope, not it.

This was attempt #2:

Nope, nope and nope.  Wasn't working.

Then I remember I had done this a week or so ago and I had no idea what I was going to do with it:
I created this by layering photos, text, newsprint, napkins, magazines, etc.with gesso, matte medium, gloss gel, and then painted over it, wrote on it, smudged it with ink, sprayed stuff on it - no real method to my madness.  It was almost like decoupage.
This took a lot (A LOT) of time......but I love it!!!!!!!!
For me, art is a good way for me to learn how to trust my instincts.  I was tempted to wait until my fiance came home to ask his advice - but I decided you know what, let me take a leap, and whatever decision I made is a good one, because I made it!  That's how I try to think about life - what is the use of second-guessing and regretting?  Make a decision, trust it, commit to it, move forward.  As I say in Gutless & Grateful, I don't believe things happen for a reason.  I believe you make things happen for a reason.
Gutless & Grateful, 2014, United Solo Festival NYC

And...I'm quite happy with my artistic decisions this morning!!!

In the hospital, I used water-color crayons a lot – it was an easy thing to use when I could sit up in bed.  Waking from my coma, my life felt like this surreal blur, so the fluidity of watercoloring helped me to paint the hazy emotions I was trying to sense that I felt.  Of course, having water dragged in front of my face was a constant tease!  Every time I dipped a crayon in water I would imagine what one little droplet might feel like again on my tongue.  I fantasized about the day I would finally be able to have just an ice cube.  Who knew it would be years?  
"Looking Out"
In the meantime, I became obsessed with water. The first time I could get up to wash my face in the ICU I cried.  And when my family would take me outside all I wanted to do was run in the sprinklers, and when they let me I would get my hospital gown absolutely soaked but I didn’t care.  And I remember the first time I re-experienced rain, I was outside on the stairs of the lobby, and I felt the raindrops start hitting me one at a time and I felt like it was the first time I felt “real” in a very long time.  It felt so pure and cleansing. 

"Tree Thoughts"
As months went by, it became very hard to watch people drink anything – even in television commercials.  The only thing that kept me holding on was, one day, they say one day I’ll be able to drink - I would fantasize this whole buffet table set up for me of every drink I could imagine of any flavor and form that ever existed, and me just going back in line over and over again all day and the happiness would never end.

That day of water finally came – gradually -  The two ounces of water per week turned to four ounces, which took another two weeks to grow to six ounces, and I think around the time I was getting to eight ounces I just got so fed up I didn’t even care anymore, I just started drinking whatever I wanted and nothing happened, so I just kept doing that and that was that. 
"Swept With The Dance"

 When I was water-coloring sitting in the ICU bed with my trembling hands, I wrote I want to go home a lot.  I felt homesick, not just for my bed, but for who I was.  Everything felt foreign, alien, mystical.  I remember seeing the world that time as though I were at the bottom of a hole looking up at the light coming down from the sky.  Like I was underwater seeing the sun shining through the surface of the ocean.  Because for a long time life was just lived on my back, so the only things within my view were the doctors over my head.  Sometimes I would see people brushing by the curtains, peeking their head in to say hello.  I could strain my neck and see the television which was very misplaced.  And if I looked to my right all the way I could see my mom sitting in a chair.

Anyway, as I used my water-coloring accessories this morning, I felt an over-whelming sense of gratitude.  Pencil in one hand, my soda in the other - life is good!  Everything does pass...
(Even this lousy winter!)
...We just have to make sure we enjoy each moment while we have it - or at least be present for it - the good and the bad.

"We are not what we know. We are what we are willing to learn."


  1. Such an interesting technique. You rely are a talented artist.

  2. THese are beautiful! Thanks for sharing at the #HomeMattersParty!

  3. You're so talented! Thank you for sharing!

  4. Beautiful! Thank you so much for joining my link up today. I can't wait to continue to network with you and follow your work.

  5. Thanks for linking up at #Simply Sundays! You're certainly talented! Don't forget to grab a badge for your post!

  6. You make it sound so easy! :) I wish I had a talent for painting. Thanks so much for sharing it with us at Totally Terrific Tuesday! It wouldn't be a party without you! :)

  7. Beautiful Art. Thanks for sharing. #ConfessionsLinkUp

  8. These painting are great your very talented. Thanks for sharing on Feature Fridays!

  9. Sounds like you have been through a lot to get to where you are. So good that your art can transport you into its world. Very interesting technique which I have not seen before. Thanks for bringing this creativity to the #HomeMattersParty