A couple weeks ago I illustrated a song for Halloween and thought it was a lot of fun so I decided to do another one and this time it was even more fun! I picked Wordless Chorus because I didn’t want to illustrate lyrics. I wanted to see if I could let the music move my hand. I tried to paint with no plan in mind and be fast and spontaneous.
The part of the song I’m illustrating starts at 3.18.
I listened to it a couple times and thought it sounds uplifting and exciting. I’t’s wild and free spirited.
First I mixed some yellow and orange and waited for the fun vocals to start. Then I quickly loaded up my palette knife with yellow and went to town! Then I waited for the part of the song I like again and repeated the process with orange.
I stopped to have a look and decided it needed some pink so I mixed up more paint, turned my paper 180* and slapped in some pink while listening to the vocals.
Then I looked closer at the texture and it reminds me of the veins on a leaf. I said, I guess it’s fall leaves in the wind.
The black background makes it look dramatic but after thinking it was a leaf abstract I wanted to see it on a blue sky, so I added the blue but tried to keep from messing up the edges and smears I made with the bright colors.
The unexpected palette knife textures are fun to look at. I’m not sure how this kind of art rates in real life, I mean is it a big waste of paint, is it worth anything, but it was fun to go wild with it and I might do another illustration of a song.
There’s a funny vein in the paint. I don’t know how I did that.
I can’t tell if this expresses the song very well or not.
I tried to make mental notes of the colors I needed when I sketched this in plein air then painted it at home. The color looks good in the photo for the sea oats but the background isn’t showing up green enough and there’s a lighter area showing on the right because of a glare.
For the background I wanted to give a color and texture of pine needles. For the sea oats I wanted to make a fuzzy texture .
It seemed like the painting went fast on this project. I worked on it for around 5 hours, which isn’t really that fast, just fast for me, because I often have 30 or 40 hours in a painting. So I like the palette knife for that. It’s not easier than painting with a brush, just different. This was a simple experiment.
The palette knife makes the project faster because I painted right on top of my sketch. Usually I redraw my sketch and then redraw it again on the canvas. This way I saved a lot of time because I didn’t prime a canvas which is a multi step process with sanding the canvas, painting gesso on it and sanding it again then tinting the canvas. That part needs to be spread out over two days or more. This way I could jump right into painting.
It’s nice not to have to clean the brushes. That is a job.
Paper is working out to be more conservative than canvases, So the palette knife is practical on a lot of different levels.
I am using more paint than I use normally. That’s one drawback to the palette knife.
The palette knife is fun, though, so I’ll do more.
This is my self portrait done with a palette knife on pastel paper.
The forecast is for a whole week of cloudy rainy days. Bummer. If I had a week of nice sunny weather I could finish my painting of the battery. I’m going to keep my fingers crossed they change the forecast.
Meanwhile, guess I’ll have some fun at home. I can use paints that might never get used before they dry up in the tube. I don’t have to mix colors or clean brushes. I’ll do more.
The texture on the background is duct tape on the back of the glass. It’s there for a practical reason. what if the glass breaks? Now the pieces won’t go all over the place creating a hazard. I like to use my imagination sometimes. Could the background be the side of a building?
Art can be a discipline, therapy or just for fun depending on your needs.
If you really want to get into doing art, the more skill you get the better. It’s like playing a musical instrument. You have to spend a lot of time practicing but anyone can pick up an instrument at any time in their life and if they live long enough to keep practicing they can see an improvement and possibly even master it. It’s not something an artist is born with. To think that is to ignore the time the artist has actually worked on it.
But not every artist wants the discipline. And they don’t have to have it in today’s art world. Self expression is valued even more highly than skill.
A lot of people just need to distract their minds from a problem and art can help with that. If you have some fun doing something with paint, that’s a couple hours that your brain took a break from whatever is eating you. What if you’re stuck at home and you’re tired of Netflix? What if you’re stuck at home with a tyrant and you can’t escape to your job like before? What if you have to home school your kids and you don’t know how to teach? Art will help in all of those situations. Any art, any project.
Art as therapy:
I wasn’t always sane, but now I am. I can’t say for sure how I got my mental health because there might be more than one reason but I think art helped. It didn’t happen suddenly. I didn’t get my head shrunk or take meds for it.
And simply not dying might have helped. Like the cliche, Time heals all wounds. That’s why I tell young artists who are suffering to stay alive. If I lived long enough to enjoy my retirement you can too.
This art therapy project:
First, think of the thing that bugs you the most. Do a rough illustration of it (stick figures or blobs will work for this). For me, the thing annoying me is the global pandemic so I threw some yellow watercolors down on the paper and then scribbled in some red lines with my Inktense pencils to make rough corona virus waves and hot spots. If I didn’t tell you my E.T.s started out as corona viruses would you have recognized it from the pictures on TV?
You can do corona viruses too or some other subject.
Second step, Think of something much worse than the original problem and add that thing into your picture. Like, what if those yellow dots with red lines aren’t corona viruses? What if they’re aliens coming to rob us of our air?
It could happen. Then we’d feel nostalgic for the days when all they talked about was the virus because suddenly they forgot all about the virus and then it would be E.T.s 24/7 on the news and our president might not be able to strike a deal with them.
Third step, Put the more scary thought’s picture in the brains of 100 people on your blog. Now 100 people will have a new perspective on corona. It’s possible to live through the pandemic without ever getting sick but impossible to live without our atmosphere.
We have a lot of brave guys who would volunteer to fly up there and destroy the oxygen sucking machines and kill the E.T.s. They’re going to need bullets and bombs.
That’s today’s art therapy project. I’ll leave it to the mental health professionals to explain how that made me feel better.
It’s raining again. I’ll go back out to draw in plein air as soon as the weather clears up.
This is the shirt I wore the day I didn’t get shot. Isn’t that kind of ironic? The song illustrated on this shirt is about a guy who shoots another guy. My daughter gave it to me for Christmas, now it’s my favorite shirt. I’d like to call it my lucky shirt but I know it wasn’t the shirt that kept the bullet from hitting me, but the long odds of that happening.
Sing it Freddy! Meme stolen from somewhere else.
This ET / Abbey Road decal is on a tee shirt I bought when I had a vacation in New Mexico. It’s great to wear fun shirts when out painting in plein air.
This is another shirt my daughter gave me. Isn’t that a scream?! That crab isn’t from around here. Chesapeake Bay Blue crabs have big sharp points on each side. He has so much personality!
This is the recommended accessory for the plein air artist this season, the famous Ikea art cart. If you want to buy one, I should warn you, I only used it a few times and the retractable handle got stuck in the down position which would make it impossible to use. But I got the handle back up and now it’s staying up. I’ve been using it for years. It’s great because I can take as much stuff out there as I want to. Also it’s better than a pochade box for lugging your supplies down a path because pochade boxes don’t have wheels. It would make my back too tired if I had to carry any weight. I lay it down on it’s side to use as a taboret in Plein air, putting my palette on the wheel where it’s best balanced. I’ll get a photo of the way to use it as a taboret some time.
I have a beach cart with wide wheels for painting in plein air on sand dunes. The beach cart is an accessory for warmer weather though.
That’s metallic gold oil paint stick on watercolor paper with watercolor paint. When I’m trying to do an abstract painting I don’t know how to proceed, or how to start at all. So I stole this idea from one of my favorite artists, Matisse. He taped his brush to the end of a yardstick and stood far back from the paper. You have less control of your drawing. Lines go where you don’t want them and you can’t erase with oil paint sticks. this is an exercise for artists who want to loosen up their work.
I hear that a lot, loosen up, and I don’t think it’s really necessary to follow the trend and draw and paint loose and fast. But I do kind of enjoy taping my charcoal or a paintbrush or in this case, my oil paint stick, to a yardstick. I could knock out a whole bunch of these in one day!
This photo shows how I set it up. I taped the paper to the board to protect the wall in case I went off the edges with the oil paint stick. I taped my charcoal sketch from last week above it and didn’t bother transferring the original sketch to the paper first. I just started in drawing with the oil paint stick on the white paper freehand. That should add to the abstraction.
That little stub taped to the yardstick is my gold paint stick. From where I was standing I couldn’t see the end of the thing on the paper. It’s too stubby. Drawing and not being able to see what you’re doing also makes it more abstract. Some artists like to sketch without looking at the paper. There are a few tricks you can use to get an abstract look. The brush on a stick technique is fun.
The first photo I posted was taken inside on my work table. I like it because it shows the gold reflecting. This photo was taken on my patio in natural light.
I think I have time to do another. I want to use my white oil paint stick on watercolor paper. That will be impossible to see what I’m doing. I might do just the head.