I just started a 100-day grateful painting challenge to improve as an artist and try to find my style and voice along the way. As I am also listening to Oprah & Deepak’s free 21-day meditation on “Manifesting Grace Through Gratitude”, I’ve combined my challenge to express what I’m grateful for each day. You can follow my progress on Instagram or Facebook.
So I’m painting anything and everything, mostly with watercolours although my self-portrait above is with gouache (more about that painting later…) I’m trying to improve my technique so I’m taking lots of online classes from Skillshare and Artists Network tv and either painting the class project or using what I learnt to paint a photograph (the sunset lake) or still life (my orchids & gin).
I’m amazed at the progress I’m making and how far I’ve come. Things that were difficult to do a year ago seem to come more naturally, like blending on paper or loose free interpretations, even if they still don’t come naturally to me, I’m not disgusted with the results anymore, like the magnolias below.
And as I read that to find my style I need to copy artists I like, I’m doing that too, like the eagle I watercoloured featured in Carrie Park’s course on Artist Network tv. My dimensions are all wrong but I’m rather pleased with the result.
As I’m a new fan to gin and tonics since I discovered great gins made in Germany and France, I had an idea to make a gin and tonic calendar for my fellow gin and tonic fan friends, so I started the painting below of one of my favourite gins, in my sketchbook. It took me three months to complete it and was the hardest painting I had to do on the art of observation as the original picture was just all greys and whites. First time I painted glass too! So not sure if that project is still on my list! 😅 At least now I know I can do it so I’m not afraid to paint glass anymore.
Then I found a class on Skillshare with food illustrator Eugenia Sudargo and absolutely loved painting the fruit tart in her course, but I got sooo hungry doing it that I got tummy cramps! Honest!😂 I’m going to eat before I paint my next project, a chocolate cake!! Its funny though cause I’m lactose and gluten intolerant so I can no longer enjoy the desserts I want to paint, but this way I’ll get to enjoy them another way.
I’m also finally using ALL my different watercolour papers. I have at least 10 different brands and sizes. Mostly cheaper paper but I have 2 Arches 100% cotton and I have to admit they are so much better. Those will always be on my birthday list ;)! The painting below was painted on Arches and the border was inspired by Jean Haine’s way of creating loose backgrounds with salt and cling wrap and the koi fish comes from Camilla Dumsbo’s class, on Skillshare again, about using liquid watercolours.
After painting for 2 weeks already, I’ve learnt alot of different techniques and confirmed that I’m a rather good copier… I’m still very unsatisfied as an artist as my goal is to paint with emotion and convey what I have to say in my paintings. Problem is, I’m an artist with nothing to say, nothing important anyway. I’m not putting myself down, I just realised that through self-reflection, during a short art course I enrolled myself in our local community college here. In that course, we learnt how to let the inner child out and play with our feelings and go with the flow. And every time they asked me what I’m passionate about or what I hate, I realised I’ve become rather neutral about things. I do hate dishonesty and narrow mindedness, but how do you paint that?
It was also very difficult for me to just doodle or randomly paint as I feel everything I do needs to be worth something. Years of working full time and raising 3 kids I guess, doing nothing is a luxury I feel guilty for doing. Even now, I fill my days with all kinds of projects and a day off where I don’t produce anything or do something “useful” is a wasted day for me and I used to feel really guilty. Lately though, I just say tomorrow is a new day to try again… so I am learning to be kinder on myself.
Anyway back to letting it go in art class, I did manage to get into it, took afew hours and my first painting was the above fish representing the Yin and Yang (balance) I need to have in my life.
Most shocking of all was to discover a dark side that came out of me. The last 2 lessons produced violent images like my self-portrait above, which I did not set out to do. I just dabbed paint on paper with a napkin and this appeared. The last painting which I threw away, depicted the pain of being a mother, with bloody tears and broken hearts… Even though it scares me, I am very pleased that I managed to paint something based solely on my emotions. To do that, I translated my emotions to colour and as I was feeling some really strong negative emotions at the time of painting, red and black were my obvious choices.
Apart from the enormous progress I feel I’ve made as an artist, the painting above sort of exorcised all the negative feelings I was feeling and I feel more at peace now… or do I? I guess I’ll have to try that again and see which colour I go for… in the meantime, it’ll be pleasant food, floral or animal paintings again! 😉
If you’ve made it this far, thank you so much for accompanying me on my journey of self-discovery and I would love to hear your thoughts. Have a great day!