watercolors

Gee, but it's great to be back home

And yes, I am old enough that I am actually quoting from a Simon & Garfunkel song from 1970. The song is “Keep the Customer Satisfied”, and it’s off Bridge Over Troubled Water. Here’s the first stanza:

Gee but it’s great to be back home
Home is where I want to be.
I’ve been on the road so long my friend,
And if you came along
I know you couldn’t disagree.

I’m just hoping not to have been slandered and libeled everywhere I go. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, click on through to YouTube and have a listen.

Dogwood from a rest area in North Carolina

Dogwood from a rest area in North Carolina

I am super happy to report that Dad is continuing to improve after his esophagectomy (esophageal cancer is no joke, yo, but he is likely to beat it as a result of the excellent treatment he has received at MUSC in Charleston, SC). His feeding tube came out on Tuesday (huzzah!) since he did such a good job tapering off of it. And he’s back on the golf course as I type this.

I am now back in New Jersey, where spring is still in its earlier stages—I feel somewhat lucky to have spent six weeks in the south and experienced mid- to late-spring in South Carolina, only to drive home again to where spring is just entering its middle phase. Of course, I literally drove through miles of “tree sex” in northern North Carolina yesterday on my way here, where the pollen was so thick it looked like a haze. Profligate trees!

Today I’m working on matting some of the smaller pieces I painted while in South Carolina. I think they are looking really great —these are in 8” square mats, with 4” square cutouts. The two on the left are chakra rainbows (which is why red is on the bottom). You may or may not have realized that the colors for the chakras from root to crown are the same as the seven colors of the rainbow, ROY G BIV: red orange yellow green blue indigo violet. But in a naturally occurring rainbow, red is on the top of the arc, and violet on the inside/bottom. I painted these the reflect the chakra alignment (though I guess you could flip the one that is just stripes to suit yourself). The pieces on the right are abstract landscapes.

The next step is packaging them in sleeves. Is it weird that I ran out of steam and just can’t even with that right now? Possibly. But it was a long drive home after a long time away, so I’m giving myself a break.

It's never too late to learn

My fifty-fifth birthday is coming up soon (and yikes, what’s with that?). And it reminds me that I started my journey making art a mere five years ago, just before I turned 50. I started with a course using colored pencils, drawing birds. (MASSIVE thanks to Val Webb for that course - she is amazing, and lovely, and good.) And eventually I started using acrylics by taking an online course called Paint Mojo with Tracy Verdugo, who is also amazing, lovely, and good. And then I took some online courses with Kelly Rae Roberts, back when she was still teaching painting online, in part because her first and middle name are the same as mine, as well as her initials, and in part because I really liked her work and her attitude. During those courses, I learned about colored pencils, acrylic paints, acrylic inks, charcoals, soft (chalk) pastels and oil pastels, oil paint sticks, some fine art markers, and more.

But I never used watercolors. Until this year, when I opened the package I bought myself from Prima Marketing, Inc., containing three tins of watercolors that they refer to as “confections”. Just below is the Vintage Pastels set just after I opened it, and a heart I made from the paints while “swatching” my set onto the little card you see in the left-hand photo.

I made about a dozen or so of those hearts, which went to some lucky customers who ordered Chakra Heart Garlands before Valentine’s Day. (You can still grab your garlands here!) And then I essentially put my watercolors away because I felt unsure of what to do.

So when it suddenly (and I mean that - it was just a day’s notice or so) came time to pack my bags for South Carolina, I decided to grab some art supplies to take along. I legit have no clue how long I will be down here to help my parents out as my dad recovers from cancer surgery (he had an esophagectomy, which means just what you probably think it does). In fact, it could be a month or more. Which is a long time to be away from my studio and all my supplies, so I brought some portable supplies with me. I have my watercolor sets and my oil pastels (not to play with together, though come to think of it, maybe I could) and a pad of watercolor paper with me.

Yesterday, I painted a bouquet (based on an actual one I’d brought home for my mom from the store—I know, grocery store flowers aren’t always optimal, but they were affordable and cheery, which is what was required). And today I took a shot at a shrub or tree in the neighbors yard, which is sending up dark green stalks with dark green leaves and pink flowers that we believe are camellias. Though I didn’t know they came in pink. But I digress. They were made in a state of creative exploration and happy, escapist meditation, and that’s pretty much the energy they carry with them. You can get a closer look at them by clicking on each. If you decide one of these two pieces below is your jam, please let me know and I’ll pack it up and send it to you for $10, shipping included.

Are these faithful representations of what I see? Nope. Are they a bit too tight? Yup. Is their composition good? Not really. But to me, these two pieces are huge successes, because I am figuring things out. How to mix colors. When to work wet-on-wet, when to use wet-on-dry. How much water to use in my brush. How the paint moves (or doesn’t).

All of these are important things to figure out. (I think?) And I am aware I can find a class (in person or online) or a YouTube video, or a SkillShare course, or or or . . . but for this weekend, I thought it would be fun to just play with my paints and see what came of it. This week may be for finding online lessons, now that I’m no longer nervous to use my supplies. Because it’s never too late to play, and it’s never too late to learn something new.