Friday, March 6, 2015

Painting Happy with Alena and Leslie

At the beginning of this year, Leslie of {Words of Me Project}, initiated a 52-week creative journey through Alena Hennessy's The Painting Workbook.  We have a Facebook community, called "Paint Happy," where we share our work and encourage one another as we make our way through the prompts in the book.

I'm not sure I would have appreciated Alena's book as much just looking at it on my own.  Working through it as part of this community, however, is helping me to see its value in my development as a painter.  I think I have come to expect a "prompt" to be a very specific assignment, with directions on how to proceed.  What Alena presents are truly prompts, though--a bit of information and a couple of visual suggestions to prompt us to experiment on our own.

And I am truly viewing these as experiments.  I am not trying to produce anything resembling finished works along the way.  I am creating the painted equivalent of a sketchbook--visual note taking about paints and painting.

I am a couple of weeks behind, because my time and energies have been so squarely focused on getting my art on the walls at Seven Stones, but I thought I would show you what I've done so far.

During the first week, we played around with color pairings, experimenting with a very limited palette to produce a simple subject. 

I saw the color combination of grey and green on a side-door advertisement on a car driving out of the Staples parking lot.  How's that for proof that inspiration is everywhere?!  I don't think I would have ever considered putting grey and green together on my own, but I like how they look:
To make this, I used an ancient-of-days cutting system from Creative Memories, and cut my own circle stencils from light cardboard.
I have a great love for circles, so I have a feeling these handmade stencils are going to get a workout.  My sister treated me to a huge set of these BASICS acrylic paint tubes by Liquitex for Christmas, so I have a nice broad palette of color options to play with!
I did some more color pairings, which I cut down to postcard-size.  Not winning any awards here with my results, but I can see this kind of color play as a great warm-up and a way to familiarize myself with all of my new colors.
During the second week, we were challenged to stick to a single color (plus black and white to create shades and tints).  One of the participants in Leslie's group created a portrait painted with a single color, and I really loved the results.  I did the same kind of thing to paint lions and tigers, using reference pictures from 20 Ways to Draw a Cat by Julia Kuo.
I kind of like how a few of these little guys came out!
I also painted an owl, based on a picture in Alena's book:

For the third week, we worked with silhouettes.  In the past, I have enjoyed creating silhouettes from figures in magazines and catalogs.  You can see a how-to post from back in December 2011
When I cut the figure out, I can use the leftover cut-out as a stencil for painting.  I used a make-up sponge to apply paint onto a clip-art page from Somerset Studio magazine.  I can definitely see using this as the basis for an art journal page:
I painted around another silhouette on top of some music clip-art, also from Somerset Studio, as another experiment which can be used for art journaling:
Finally, Leslie offered us a twist, and suggested that we doodle within our silhouettes with white, so I drew this tree using a design from Carolyn Scrace's Zen Doodling, and filled it in with doodles using a Sharpie paint pen.
At this point in the year-long challenge, Leslie decided to start jumping around Alena's book, rather than plodding through from beginning to end.  We jumped to the 23rd prompt, about using "found" objects in our work.  Alena mentions beads, marbles, and buttons specifically in her book, and our community members used things like soda cans, napkins, and leaves.  Leslie suggested that we could use items "found" on our art tables, so I emptied a jar I have on mine that contains all kinds  of religious charms and medals.  I created this little ATC, using a phrase cut out of a magazine long ago that introduced a delightful understatement to this charm of the Virgin Mary, adhered to the card with a little orange stitch.
Here I am holding it, for a sense of scale:
As I said before, there is no way that I would have been so diligent about looking through each of Alena's prompts and using them as weekly exercises and painting experiments.  For that reason, I am grateful to Leslie for launching this challenge for 2015.  I'm only a few weeks behind at this point, but Leslie and the other women who are participating never make anyone feel rushed or behind.  Leslie calls our group "Paint Happy," and that is truly what I have been doing!


Anne said...

I really like how you've used the silhouette as a stencil. I've done the cut-out figure thing but never carried it the step beyond. Definitely will be trying it. (I also really like your tiger and lion!

Jewels said...

Love all of it! It's a great way to develop your skills. I am learning a lot this year doing the Documented Life Project....

Janet said...

So much inspiration here! The green and gray are not colors I would have thought of either but I like what you did with them. Being a stencil kind of gal, I like what you did with yours. Making your own is good.

And I went back and read about your art display at the cafe. That's terrific!! Congratulations!

uncustomary said...

YES YES YES. That silhouette!!
Uncustomary Art.

lee said...

I have those circles love what you did

Parabolic Muse said...

Okay. YOU are outdoing yourself. I love all of this, a lot, and there's so much to see. But: silhouette!!

Carin Winkelman said...

This is absolutely fantastic. I love how your trying out things and experimenting.
My favorite of all is the postcard of the little tree on the blue background. I want that card, haha! ;-)
Great job!

Joyfulploys said...

Hi Andria...thought I'd see what you are up to...I've been out of the loop for awhile. Looks like you are up to a lot...I always like to come here, you always have some great things going on. Love the circles and the silhouettes!!!
That project you started looks interesting!
Take care!