Monday Motivator: Use Paint to Evoke

Monday Motivator Motivation Quote

Monday Motivator Motivation Quote

“It’s easy to make a painting look like paint. But it’s a lifelong challenge to use paint to evoke the chill of autumn or the smell of a rose.”
— James Gurney, Pitfalls of Virtuosity, 3 January 2008

If you’re reading this and thinking you’ve left it a bit late if it’s going to take a lifetime, turn that thought on its head: even if you’d started earlier it still wouldn’t have been long enough.

So just get on with painting and enjoy yourself.

Photos: Dancing a Line with a Brush

Dancing a line with a brush

If you’ve been on one of my painting workshops, you’ve probably heard me say “dance in a line”. I hope these photos help explain what I mean.

Hold the brush at the tip of the handle, so you’ve maximum movement in it from the wrist.
Dancing a line with a brush

Move quickly and light-heartedly, without overthinking, as you’d do a twirl.
Dancing a line with a brush

Keep going.
Dancing a line with a brush

The line I’m dancing in here is intended to ultimately become part of a foxglove in the foreground of a sheep painting.

My “Ascending Pinks” (below) is full of these danced lines.

Flower Painting: Ascending Pinks Foxgloves by Marion Boddy-Evans
Ascending Pinks. 100x100cm. At Skyeworks Gallery. £695.

Monday Motivator: Create the State of Mind (Not the Masterpiece)

Monday Motivator Motivation Quote

“Remember, your purpose at this point isn’t to create a masterpiece. Your purpose is to create the state of mind that will allow you to create a masterpiece. Work precedes inspiration, not the other way around.”

— Christopher Gallego, Why My Art Students Hate Me

If you’re waiting for inspiration to hit before you start, perhaps it’s time to remember all that happened while waiting for Godot.

A Few Words About Brushwork

Context: Thinking about visible brushmarks or mark making in a painting rather than blending and smoothing out all brushmarks, about the things that influence brushmarks.

Shape (of brush: round, rigger, flat, filbert, fan)

Size (of brush)

Hard/Soft-ness (of the bush hairs)

Speed (of the brushstroke)

Direction (of the brushstroke)

Length (of the brushstroke)

Thick/thin-ness (of the paint)

Dryness (dry brushing, wet onto dry paper)

Underpainting with visible brushwork
This is what typically happens beneath the final ‘wool’ paint layer sof my sheep. You ultimately see just specks through the ‘wool’, but without it my sheep look flat to me.

Was it Sepia or Payne’s? (Plus Another Word Prompt Chart)

icy seascape

A key moment in this little seascape, which I finished yesterday and an very pleased with, was through happenstance.
icy seascape

I had a bit of dark acrylic ink on a brush from another painting I was working on that I didn’t want to waste, so impulsively applied it to the texture paste of base the mountains and foreground, then put it aside again. Next day I noticed and loved the result. (I later added some lighter tones on top.)

But I can’t remember now if it were sepia or Payne’s grey, and so will have to try both. Maybe it was a bit of both? I know these two colours are the only possibilities because these ink bottles were on the table next to my palette — I tend to have only those colours I’m using on the top. It’s not a problem, but an excuse to play with colour to figure out how to do it again. It was also a reminder of the joys of glazing vs opaque paint.

And here’s another June Word Prompts Chart, from Tessa who says: “I like the way one idea generates another and I find links between the boxes. I quite like doing a catch-up batch. I enjoy doing them in pen with dashes of colour.”

Word Prompts Tessa June
by Tessa

I particularly like the way you’ve combined 5 Snake and 6 Danger Tessa!

Photos: More June Word Prompt Charts

June Word Prompts

Following on from Sunday’s shared word charts, here are three more (or two and a ‘cheatsheet’).

From Lynn, who said: “I so enjoy these as a personal challenge and love seeing all the variations on a theme.”

June Word Prompts
by Lynn

From Karen:

June Word Prompts
by Karen

From Issie, who said: “This is my cheat sheet. Have had an incredible busy month so decided to pick four subjects make them bigger and draw them. This way I had a evening project that I could manage. Thus allowing me to focused on what I want to do.”

June Word Prompts
by Issie

Thanks for sharing everyone! If you haven’t yet started July’s chart, you’ll find it here.

Monday Motivator: Perfection is Procrastination

Motivaror Art Quote Emile Gruppe

Monday Motivator Motivation Quote

“Students often think that perfection is the greatest art. They want their money’s worth — the picture has to tell everything. But who can draw the perfection of nature? If you really want perfection, you could spend your life on one picture. You’d never get every detail, there’d always be more to do. From that point of view it doesn’t matter if you stop halfway to perfection … or a quarter of the way.”
— Emile Gruppe, Brushwork

What are you not painting because you know you can’t do it perfectly?

What are you not even trying to do because you think you can’t do it perfectly?

What are you putting off doing until “some day” when you will magically be able do it perfectly?

What painting are you overworking and obsessing over in the belief there is a state of perfection?

What have you given up trying to do because you believe perfection is the only desirable result?

Motivaror Art Quote Emile Gruppe

See Also: Van Gogh’s answer

Photos: June Word Prompt Charts

June Word Prompts

I’ve once again really enjoyed looking at what each word has prompted, been intrigued and inspired by each finished chart. Hard to choose a favourite image, but most poignant (given the Grenfell Tower inquiry and the fires in Glasgow) is Eddie’s choice for “danger”.

From Margaret, who said: “When I saw the number of animals on this months word chart — I thought ‘Oh Dear’. But am surprisingly quite happy at how they turned out. I can’t decide if the hippopotamus or the elephant is my favourite. I’m afraid the puffin and the giraffe don’t look quite right. Still, another enjoyable month.”
June Word Prompts

From Jerry, who said: “Another fun month of creativity!”
June Word Prompts

From Eddie, who said: “A veritable menagerie but narry a sheep in sight.”
June Word Prompts

I’ve been doing my word prompts in my book version of the charts that I want to use as my display copy at Patchings Art Festival. I’ve found I tend to not do it every day, but rather doing two or three every few days, using watercolour, coloured pencils, or just pencil as the mood takes me, a relaxation with afternoon tea. When it came to all the animals, I was trying to work from memory rather than look up reference photos. I found I couldn’t visualise where the black and red and white on a woodpecker are at all!

June Word Prompts

July’s chart can be downloaded here. Have fun!

Joys Amidst the Chaos

rainbow sheep

At a time that feels exponentially like it’s the “interesting times” that proverbial curse threatens, it’s even more important to remind myself of small joys in every day. They’re always there, though some days they’re harder to see.

That first cup of coffee with studio cat sleeping on my lap (though the wake-up paw of studio cat wanting breakfast isn’t a joy!).

Seeing Stranger Cat, a skinny long-haired black cat who appeared in the garden several weeks ago, run only to the nearest bush to watch and wait.

A golden eagle swirling low on a thermal.

Making wirework sheep with coloured ‘wool’ for the first time. Arranging them in rainbow order. (I’ll have them on my stand at Patchings Art Festival.)

The mica-sparkle of a Daniel Smith Duochrome watecolour a friend gave to me.

The late-morning coffee with ginger biscuit from the in-house art critic.

Very definitely on my list are those of you helping me via Patreon or PayPal, the equivalent of a cup of coffee a month adds up to help keep the wolf from scratching through the door, feed another not-yet-in-the-studio cat, and lets me spend time writing. Thank you again.

The black cat in this photo is not Stranger cat. It was Rascal, who had some white whiskers.

PS: Don’t forget to send me photos of your June word prompt charts tomorrow! July’s chart can be downloaded here.

Practice Being Spontaneous in Your Painting

Practice makes perfect in art

A friend’s comment about a painting she considered oveworked was that she needed “more practice in spontaneity”. It reminded me of “appearing effortless”, how what a painting looks like doesn’t necessarily reflect what went into its making.

It wants to look freely created without struggle or second-guessing, not laboured and repainted and rethought and reworked, but that’s not to say it was. Nor does it reflect all the other paintings that went before it.

Sponteniety does increase with practice, with having stronger muscle memory (aka practice), with a larger repertoire of marks and mediums (aka choices) to draw (pun intended) from.

Even so, practice doesn’t magically make perfect.

Practice makes perfect in art