John Steinbeck has been sitting in the top corner on my computer screen all through my year of mourning and into 2015, quietly keeping me company as I try new things that make me feel like a novice. Things make my brain stretch and hurt, things that make me feel old and inept, things that make me feel that I may never know how to paint again or use the fantastically elaborate and sophisticated programs that promise so much design delight.
Steinbeck has been here as learning makes me feel hopeful and clever and good for having persisted and not succumbing to fear. He’s been here, steady and wise as I’ve begun to paint and draw and design and with me as slowly the fog of sadness has lifted and the joy of being a learner has taken its place.
I’ve learned that there is peace and solace to be had in paint and pencil and pixels and it doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s taken a whole year to hear what Steinbeck had to say to me.
So in my imperfect hand, with ink at the end of my imperfect brush, I pay a perfect tribute to you Mr Steinbeck.
Here’s a A5 sized hand lettering piece I did last year for a little friend’s birthday. It’s done on 300gms/90lb rough water paper using Sakura Mircron Pen and Koh-I-Noor Brilliant Watercolour – you can see how inky and deep the colours are! They look remarkably flat and not that interesting in the pans themselves but they are very punchy on paper! I’m delighted to say my 10 year old friend was very happy with her leafy name and has it on the door of her room. 🙂
I have a high need for novelty, I admit that. The time lapse capabilities of my iPad provides for my need of new tricky goodness and also gives me fresh eyes. Making these inky magnolia fruiting body sketches felt like a lot of fun. The ink is unpredictable straight out of the dropper – it’s both kind of liberating and frustrating in almost equal measure. Liberating because you don’t know what the ink will do and unnerving because it doesn’t behave the way you think it might – blowing bubbles everywhere, the ink runs out just when you find your line, fine scratchy lines appear then another splodge happens. It’s strangely wonderful and when you relax into the unpredictability it’s very freeing. The ink is Daler Rowney Acrylic Artists Ink in black – once it’s on the paper in quantity it takes a good while to dry and seems to sit on the surface of the paper beautifully. I’m thinking of buying a bunch of medical pipettes to make bigger images with more ink – I see a ink filled turkey baster in my artistic future…it’s going to get messy!
Sometimes it has to rain. After a deluge in the night this morning started cool and cloudy – an excuse to stay off the beach and play with paint… what a wonderful morning it turned out to be. By virtue of painting in a semi public place (our camp site) I had chats with three or four fellow campers who dropped by and a fantastic, longer conversation with a very talented artist who camps just across the way from us.
Then it was on to experiment with blowing inky water colour around the page – the results of this kind of artplay are beautifully random and exciting, the paint shoots off to make tendrils of colour across the snowy paper surface. It’s fun to try out puffing gently and more vigorously and to send the paint in different directions – the technique can leave you a little lightheaded!
Sometimes the beach gives you the subject and the tools! Today I was lucky enough to come across a couple of pieces of charcoal on our driftwood strewn section of beach at Mogareeka Inlet – some of it soft and deeply black, other bits more brown and scratchy. My kids were kind enough to make “pencils” for me by wedging a tiny piece of charcoal in a hollow reed stem – they are nothing if not inventive! And the pencils worked. 🙂
I always have this feeling that I use about 5% of the capacity any technology I own and it’s only when I really want to do something that I’ll push a little. I’ve been printing documents and photos an on my Canon MG6250 for years – yesterday was the first time I slipped some card in the rear tray and printed something I’d designed. Small miracles hey? It’s not perfect and I’m still wrangling with image and paper size matching up, but I did it and I’m ridiculously chuffed at how this work is coming together.
I’ve had a lot of fun these past few weeks taking Rachael Taylor’s excellent The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design course and feel like I’m starting to find my way. I’m concentrating on a few design ideas and now need to concentrate on learning how to use the technology! I can feel my brain stretching! One of the course tasks was to take a design you’d made, print it off and use as wrapping paper – I think these from my Stamp Gardens and Starry Starry collections have potential. Onward!