Full of inspiration and excitement after my art class, I dragged out all of my supplies to play. I was planning to experiment. To just play, to go with intuition and see where things went.
In one of my classes through AAU, we were assigned to just do random, organic shapes. We did several versions and had to turn in our four best. Part of the assignment was to play around with negative space, different size and shapes. With that in mind, I started playing around on paper. Then, I decided to forget the paper and just work straight on the wood that I planned to work on.
I grabbed a pencil and started drawing randomly. It was very zen.
I got out my wood burning tool. I had bought it last year, but had yet to open it up. I was a little nervous about it, since I really didn’t want to burn the house down. I very carefully set it on a trivet and opened a window for ventilation. Grabbing my wood, I started burning some of the outlines that I had drafted.
Oh boy. Wood burning is fun! I think I got a teensy bit carried away. It does take some practice to get smooth lines, especially on the curves. My piece was pretty small, so I wonder how it would be to work on something really large.
I outlined my pebbles. I experimented with the tip of the tool, adding little divets. Some deep. Some shallow. Some squiggly. Some straight. There was something satisfying about this whole process. And the smell of the burning wood pleasant.
Then came the paint. I didn’t have a clear purpose or color palette in mind when I started. I had a vague notion that I was going to stick to earth tones. Greys and browns, sand and stone. Then I veered off slightly into a mustard-y yellow. More veering with some turquoise. Hmmm.
Looking at it now, it is not really what I was hoping for. But in the spirit of “experimenting”, I continued on. Let it evolve. Just keep going.
Art is personal. And subjective. And who gets to define what is “good”? Last year for my birthday, I took a day off work and went to see the Impressionist exhibit at the De Young Museum in San Francisco. I was really excited to see the work of Monet, Cézanne and especially van Gogh (although, van Gogh is technically post-impressionism). The exhibit was sold out and incredibly crowded. I’m not sure how many people actually were allowed in the exhibit at one time, but there were at least 3-4 deep at any one painting. I had paid for the audio tour, so as I looked at specific paintings, I could play an audio narration of the history of the artist and the piece.
Standing in front of van Gogh’s The Starry Night, feeling a little giddy that the famous painting was right there, I felt a sense of awe. All of these people were here to gaze at this painting (and others) yet most was that during van Gogh’s lifetime, his art was not well known or well liked. And yet hundreds of years later, his work sells at auction for millions of dollars and people come by the thousands to pay for a chance to gaze at it for a few moments. Mind-bending.
I continued on with my experiment adding fabrics. I kept going, even though I wasn’t coming together like I hoped. I didn’t think I had a plan in mind when I started this, and yet, this was not turning out like I hoped. Did I go too crazy with the wood burning tool? Did I not like the colors? Not sure. But I just continued on, finally adding some dimensional paint and then finally varnish.
It is very abstract. Sort of chaotic. Not sure if I like it.
There is a quote from The Artist’s Way book, a prayer actually that goes something like, “God, I’ll take care of the quantity if you take care of the quality.” I’ll keep going with quantity and hope quality follows.