Thursday, November 29, 2012

Learning How To Say Yes 72-77/100 in 100 days

Yes (gold and silver)
pencil and acrylic

One of the things I have to practice is saying yes to life. My first impulse is always to say no. The farther out of my comfort zone things are, the more likely I am to say no, or just clam up and hide.
I've learned to get around this impulse. I make myself little reminders, like this painting of YES. Or I try to change my automatic internal dialogue into something more positive. I ask myself, what's the worst that could happen? I join blog challenges to do one brave thing a day. Sometimes, I just hold my breath and jump in.
Another thing I do to help myself learn to take chances and try new things and go for my goals, is to take baby steps. For instance, I wanted to do more portraits, try something new, really get into it. So I started small. The earlier recent portraits are an example. The first ones were a bit over 3"x5.5". Note paper size. And then I moved up to vintage book pages at about 4.5"x7". The scrap paper and left over book pages are not only small, but because they are "scrap" the stakes are lowered for me. This enables me to take chances, to risk things not working out... because it's just experimenting.

 Head of a Girl 9
ink on vintage Alice in Wonderland Page
Here my experiments get a bit larger. Practicing with the same image, trying new things, learning the technique, branching out.

 Head of a Girl 10
ink on paper, moleskine
Now on plain paper. This is not watercolor paper and it absorbed the ink strangely. Something I actually thought was interesting, so I decided to try something a bit more challenging

ink on paper, moleskine

I painted my daughter. I always find painting kids to be very challenging, because the features are so soft and rounded. But after experimenting with these vintage portraits and the ink, I went for it anyway.

I decided that I like the stronger shadows better. Gives me something else to grab onto with the sepia ink, but all in all, I don't think this is a bad attempt, for a first attempt. Usually, when I do portraits, I do myself... since I am always there and I don't complain when I model. And since the advent of digital photography, I don't even need a mirror, I can just snap a picture and paint it from my camera.

ink on peper

Like here. A painting of a snapshot. This is definitely not my best self portrait, but I'm okay with it. Remember, part of this whole series, aside from getting my numbers up on my 100 in 100 challenge, is to take baby steps towards the harder challenges. Experimenting. Trying new things. Lowering the stakes and the pressure that I put on myself to get things right, and be perfect.

The process of trying out new things with low stakes is also a process of being open to whatever comes... whether it is a surprising aspect of a medium or a new idea of what I might try next.

Head of a Girl 11
ink on paper

(does anyone else find it funny that my page sizes are going up in half inch increments?)

This last painting was done this morning when I had a brilliant idea to use acrylic on top of my ink paintings... except I liked how this turned out, with it's strong shadows and pretty girl, so much, that I didn't want to touch it with the experiment.

You see? I stopped the willingness to try new things because I got attached to this "perfection." Not that I think it's perfect, but that I didn't want to "ruin" it.

Luckily, with this series, I am gaining enough facility in the medium and style that I can paint another head of a girl and experiment with that one. Maybe I should go back to my usual head of a girl, so that I can feel more comfortable with trying something new without ruining the existing work.

Being an artist does not mean you are always confident in what you create. Taking chances is part of the territory. Every blank page is the chance to make a masterpiece or a disaster that will make you climb back into bed and hide under the covers.

Learning to get out there, becoming comfortable with the risk, trying things that you've never done before... facing your fears... this is part of being an artist. This is part of being a human, actually. It's a hard lesson, and sometimes you have to relearn it.

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