Maybe I should be doing Art?

So…I have gotten to the point of realizing that maybe I really should be doing something with my artistic sensibilities and skills. The below started out as a test sheet for Caran D’Ache Technalo water-soluble graphite pencils, on Canson Mix Media Paper. As you can see, it…developed. I’ll shrink it down so you can have a hope of seeing it all on one screen:

A boardwalk leads into the image. A flowering tree stands in light on the left, while the path disappears to the right of two conifers. Unflowering tulips line the right side of the path, while the evening sun causes the trees to cast shadows.
This does have a Brightness/Contrast and Black & White filter applied to it: night photography means that otherwise it has an orange cast and appears dim.

This is another time when I just started something, and — to my surprise — when I keep at it, something comes out. I’m being surprised by this in all areas of my life, right now. It does make me wonder how much of my creative process is simply about engagement (and trust in myself).

I did this today as a reward for re-engaging with my XML homework, on someone else’s recommendation. I didn’t get the right answer on that homework, but what I turned in follows my own internal logic (which did not mirror the computer’s logic). At least it made sense to me, and it was a valid file, which is better than I left off, yesterday.

I question if my heart is in it.

Last night, after having done a few sketches (I haven’t posted them yet; they’re essentially comic art), I realized that I do still have artistic skill, and that maybe I should follow that skill…

I’m looking at working with the art supplies again more in the near future, and putting less energy into the beadwork — the latter of which, looks like a relative dead end. Developing skills in drawing and painting (at which I already have a good start) just seems to carry more possibilities. (I mean: I could be a storyboarder, or a background artist for animated works, or actually do that Graphic Novel work that I’ve wanted to, or become an Illustrator, otherwise.)

I also opened a couple of pots of Liquitex Acrylic Gouache (gouache is opaque watercolor; acrylic gouache has an acrylic binder which means it won’t lift off the paper, later). They were so difficult to unseal (my thumbnails are not that strong) that I ended up only working with two colors: Cadmium-Free Yellow Deep (which I really love), and Quinacridone Magenta. D and I literally had to use pliers to peel one of the seals off!

Because of this, I didn’t experiment as much with the Acrylic Gouache as I would have liked: but someday when I’m OK with being gloved up and using pliers to unseal things (and possibly spraying paint on the table and floor…and myself), you can bet that I’ll be trying those out, more!

Now that I think of it, maybe I should open them, outside the house…in throwaway clothes and an apron and a face shield, or something. The good thing is that I’ve made sure I have no toxic colors in my set. The potential mess, on the other hand…that’s entirely different. The Liquitex also has a chemical smell, but it isn’t a big deal to me, so long as the paints don’t carry a Caution Label.

Today I worked on a pre-primed Blick Canvas Pad (I wasn’t sure what to use; acrylic gouache is a hybrid between watercolors and acrylics), though I also have some other surfaces I can try out. The paint is really, fairly gorgeous: if you like even, flat dispersion. There was a drop in intensity after it had dried, I noticed; but I was mixing an orange-leaning yellow with a blue-leaning red, so the dulling could be expected (orange plus blue are going to mute anything they’re mixed together within). I used a synthetic watercolor brush on the firmer side to apply it, and that was fine (just don’t let it dry in there!).

I had been torn between Liquitex Acrylic Gouache and Holbein Acryla Gouache…it may be worth getting both, if I find I like acrylic gouache, generally. (I know Holbein from their other watercolors…both their transparent watercolors, and their regular gouache, are pretty good.)

I’m also surprised at how closely the Caran D’Ache Supracolor water-soluble colored pencils mirror the intensity of paint — it’s something I noticed offhand, today, when seeing them both at once. If my memory is correct, the Supracolors mimic the color range of Neocolor crayons (they’re made by the same company), but they liquefy much more nicely, to my sensibilities. (I got rid of my Neocolor IIs — water-soluble crayons — because I didn’t like their texture, once wet [or even after they had dried]. I might have been able to modulate that with lighter pressure, smoother paper, and more layers, however.)

The Supracolors really put the Derwent Inktense and Derwent Graphitint pencils to shame, which I feel relatively confident in saying, even though I gave up on the Graphitints after testing two of them out with water and a brush. They sounded like a good idea, as muted, tinted graphite; but they don’t liquefy anywhere near as nicely as the Technalos. The Inktense pencils, I’ve had for a long time, and they’re fine (especially when you want permanence: they won’t move after they’ve dried, even if re-wet), but they need a light touch and multiple layers. Supracolors, on the other hand…they’re just very soluble, and very intense, as I recognized again, today.

Bright colors can always be dulled down; brightening a dull color, though? That takes some skill, but it can be done (try mixing magenta and yellow to get red…or adding an intense color to a dull one with the same underlying and harmonizing tones, which will strengthen the common tones. [These things don’t always make sense]).

It’s been a while since I’ve allowed myself to get back into drawing (as versus painting), though to be truthful about it, until this week, I hadn’t allowed myself to indulge in either, even though I have the tools and media and substrates. Why?

On some level I had been thinking that my art didn’t matter and wouldn’t go anywhere. But I did just get through reading Beth Pickens’ Make Your Art No Matter What, where she asserts that it does matter; that we need vision for the world. That, plus just coming off of a museum visit…it helps.

Not to mention that in my capstone class for my AA in Art, someone did tell me, “please don’t stop making Art”…

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