A colour-wash of memories tint my brain
A million shades I’d love to recreate
I hold too tight, imagination reined
Convince myself I’m too old, it’s too late
‘Not good enough’, spits out its bitter pill
Expecting me to swallow down dream’s death
I challenge habit’s thinking – time stands still –
Anticipation waits with bated breath…
Yet once I start to paint, I find my flow
My brush an inked extension of my hand
My eyes begin to sparkle with warm glow
As liquid rainbows blend, soft strokes expand
Released in coloured undulating swirl
I sense my creativity unfurl…
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again…
Much happier with the feel of this one so far – I took my time and have kept my touch lighter but more controlled, and already the flower looks altogether more delicate and three-dimensional than in my previous attempt.
Letting it dry thoroughly now before adding any detail, but I think I’ll probably keep it reasonably minimalist all the way through… 🙂
I think I got so excited at the idea of actually putting paint to paper again the other day I pretty much just took a deep breath, threw caution to the wind and plunged straight in at the deep end without really thinking through what I was doing. I suppose it was a necessary leap of faith for me to prove to myself I could still do it, and it was definitely a success in the sense that I didn’t drown, even if things didn’t all go swimmingly on my first attempt. It’s fair to say that the painted flower representation I ended up with was not at all the image I had envisaged emerging from the paper.
But nevertheless I learned a lot – or perhaps I should say remembered a lot – from completing that one little trial-and-error flower painting. I had forgotten how unforgiving watercolour paint can be if you don’t use it correctly. How important it is to get the particular balance of water and pigment just right for whatever specific technique you are using at any given point, and just how crucial your timing has to be when blending your paint. You either have to work each small section immediately before it starts to dry, or let it dry out completely before adding another layer on top .
I can see in my first little flower painting I was way too enthusiastic with the initial amount of pigment I used, and way too impatient to wait for what I had already put on the paper to dry thoroughly before adding even more paint. My unintentionally heavy-handed and rushed approach meant that what I ended up with was far too solid-looking, with flat muddy colours and absolutely no luminosity whatsoever. So while I’m pleased with it in the sense that I actually painted something after all these years, at the same time I feel frustrated and disappointed at how many basic mistakes I made.
So today I’m going back to basics and starting again with the same flower shape and the same brush on the same size paper, but this time I’m going to apply far less paint and far more patience, and see just how much I can improve on my initial attempt.
Watch this space for watercolour dog-rose take two…! 🙂
Hmmm… I know so far I’ve only done one simple flower colour study so it’s very early days, but I’ve been reflecting ever since on how it felt this afternoon to be painting again after all these years. Physically I absolutely loved the feel of the brush in my hand, the steady flow of the paint, and the diluting wash of the water, however clumsy and awkward my technique may have been to begin with. I know that technically, patience and practice and perseverance (as with everything else in life) will help me improve in time.
But emotionally I can sense I’m still too tied up in how I feel something ‘should’ look when put to paper, as if the only criteria that mattered for judgement was to reproduce a near-photographic representation of my subject matter for scathing critique under extreme scrutiny. As if true-to-life matters more than true-to-me. Of course, if the purpose of my painting was indeed to achieve that level of accuracy (for example if I were painting someone’s portrait for them) I suppose then it really would matter?
But I think I simply want my subject matter to provide the baby-steps beginnings of my own creativity, be a spring-board point of inspiration that I can choose to interpret in my own way, letting my imagination decide what to do and where to run with it. After all I’m not 17 any more, I don’t have a set syllabus or class curriculum to follow, or for that matter a teacher or parent to please. Rather, I have the absolute freedom to please myself. I can be as abstract and off-beat and making-it-up-as-I-go-along as I want.
So why do I struggle so much with recognising and accepting that artistically creative adult reality? Maybe the question I need to be asking myself is – who am I actually painting for? Because maybe that’s partly what has been blocking me for all these years, maybe at heart I’m still that insecure little girl always yearning for approval from others, trying desperately to feel good enough but all the while knowing I will never be enough for some people no matter what I do… 🙂
Watercolours urge to flow
Hope I stay inspired…
In for a penny, in for a pound! Well, nearer £20 actually, all in all, but it’s a good investment for my creative/ artistic future – I now have new watercolour paints, a couple of new brushes and some watercolour paper, and I’m determined one way or another to make a start of some sort today…
Partly what holds me back is the emotional insecurity of uncertainty – what if I’ve completely lost my touch? What if I’ve forgotten altogether how to paint? What if my imagination fails me and I look at the blank page in front of me and don’t know where the hell to start? What if I do make a start, then mess it all up? What if I fail…?
But logically I know that whatever I’ve forgotten, I’ll remember eventually. I know inevitably I’m going to be really rusty, and clumsy, and my painting is likely to be clunky and heavy-handed rather than loose and flowing to begin with. Thirty-six years is a long time in which not to have lifted a paintbrush – and I have to remember that whatever skill I may have had while I was at school developed only after a lot of practice…
I know as usual I expect far too much of myself, but I also know that if I don’t just strike while the iron’s hot and give it a go, I’ll be forever wondering what might have been if only I’d found the courage to try… 🙂
These are my old watercolour paints from school – well, what’s survived of them, anyway! I haven’t actually done any watercolour painting since 20th May 1981, and the reason I can be so confident about the date is because that was the day I sat my Higher Art practical exam, just before I left school… I found the old exam paper with my paints 🙂
I never intended to give up painting altogether, because although I wasn’t ever great at it I really enjoyed it, but after leaving school I worked for a while, then got married and had a baby – actually three babies, one after the other – and somehow there never seemed to be time to paint. I carried on tentatively drawing (mainly simple pencil sketches) for a while, then that too dwindled away to nothing.
Over the years I have occasionally picked up my drawing pencil every now and again, but never my paintbrush. In fact, although I still have my paints I have no idea where my brushes even went, or my watercolour paper for that matter? There were more tubes of paint initially, but sadly after close inspection these nine were all that were salvagable – mind you after 36 years of total neglect it should probably be more surprising to me that any are still usable!
Recently I’ve been feeling the stirrings of creative curiosity again though – that prickling sensation of anticipation that comes with a renewed desire to have another go, just to see how it feels after so long to wield a wet paintbrush on heavy paper, feel the flowing undulations of diluted colour spreading out and tinting the pristine page beneath. I think that’s why I like using watercolours so much – there’s a delicate softness of touch to it, a gentle fluidity that resonates with me emotionally.
My mum was an art teacher before she got married, and she always used to paint with oil paints, and my eldest daughter moved on from the bright acrylics of her teens to the pastels she uses now. But my favourite medium was always watercolour paints – whatever else I experimented with along the way I always came back to watercolours. And now here I am at 53, itching to pick up where I left off 36 years ago.
The thing is, starting painting again requires an initial outlay – fresh paints, and replacement brushes and paper. Nothing too fancy, I don’t need to equip an entire studio, just get the bare minimum to give it a try. But if I’m actually going to do this then I need to commit to starting somewhere, so I guess there’s no harm in picking up a few basic supplies, and taking it from there – how exciting…! 🙂
I stuck my camera on my mini tripod this enjoyably lazy Sunday morning and played about with shooting close-up with different f-stops – these images were taken at f2, f4, f8 and f16 respectively…
Personally I find the f16 a bit too flat, and the f2 a bit too fuzzy – but for focusing specifically on these close-up flower heads with this particular lens, I find between f4 and f8 gives the best result for me.
But when I try to capture more of the bunch in focus, I find between f8 and f16 looks best…
I like to play about like this, experimenting with taking multiple images that really don’t matter – the idea being that when I find myself in a situation where I need to know what works best for a particular subject, I don’t have to mess about wasting time fiddling about too much with settings and risking mistakes when it matters most 🙂
These three extreme zoomburst images of a vase of carnations are the most abstract of all those I took yesterday – they no longer resemble a bunch of flowers at all, but I really love the hypnotic colour-explosion effect! ❤
OK so this is a first for me – I’m actually entering a blog competion!
Linda over at lindaghill.com has asked for ideas for a new design for the ‘Stream of Consciousness Saturday’ badge, and as today I was playing around with zoomburst photography I simply added the wording to one of the more flowing, abstract images I created and have decided just to go for it.
I really love the dynamic feeling of movement in the image, which underneath it all is actually a bunch of carnations, and as Stream of Consciousness writing is all about the unfettered flow and fluidity of thought I figured it might suit as a conceptual background behind the lettering – so here goes!
I do appreciate it may be a little too pink for some tastes, so I won’t be offended if no-one else likes it – and after all it’s not the winning but the taking part that matters! 🙂