Baby Steps

Learning to paint again is hard. Those skills definitely get rusty when you haven’t used them in…well, over a decade. Digital photomontage art doesn’t count, as although that keeps the creative juices flowing, it makes you lazy and sloppy – let’s face it, someone else has done the heavy lifting.

It’s difficult believing in yourself during the initial major suckage phase…everything is so horrible, so worthless. You need to persevere and believe in what you see in your mind’s eye, not what is coming out on the other end (pun intended). You have to believe that it will get better.

Here are some tips:

1. Professional tools are a must. They don’t have to be expensive, but they have to be able to do the job. Those pads of watercolour paper and generic brushes? Useless. The brushes had lovely sharp points in the package…which were cemented together with something. Once I soaked them for long enough to separate, each brush turned into a limp, ragged mop that leaked hairs with every stroke. Horrible.

2. Irritations will multiply like locusts when you’re tense about working. Try to remember that you are not pissed off with the cats or the screaming kids outside or the husband that suddenly needs things from the room in which you are working. You are pissed off with your own shortcomings, try not to take it out on them.

3. It’s ok, in the beginning, to use reference material. That is why people draw from models and still lifes, and why art students are sent to copy paintings in museums. You’ll get your personal voice back – right now, though, you’re just trying to learn the vocabulary. Even though you’ve probably seen millions of noses in your life, don’t hate yourself for not being able to picture how shadows fall around them. Look at something!!!

So, baby steps. But it feels so good to be working again.

 



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