How to Find Joy in Just Making a Splash (of Paint)
by Andrea Watson | October 7, 2020
There are many types of art, and I really love painting. I miss having time for art. I used to paint/create at least once a week, but between writing content for money and blogging (another form of creativity, thank you) I just don’t seem to have the time. Dang. For real. So I thought today while I have a spare few minutes I would blog about art and how to do it. I’m telling you up front I am not an art teacher, nor have I taken an art class past junior high. I paint and create purely for the intrinsic joy I find in it. This is just art as it applies to me and how I think it can apply to you, too. Here you see one of my visions of a regularly busy street in Quarantine Street. Normally bustling shops and other businesses, all quiet and keeping to themselves during a pandemic. You don’t have to be an “artist” to create. That’s what’s so wonderful about it! Let’s strap in and go for a colorful (or not) ride down art alley. So let’s go!
I spawn art with my very own golden rule in mind: “The purpose of all art is to first serve the creator, then the audience”. This means that if it doesn’t make you, the virtuoso happy, then don’t even bother. Like I said before, this is ultimately for your happiness, not for anyone else’s. If I do something bland and forced, it’s most likely uninspired. I mean, bland can be good occasionally, but we’ll talk about that later. I need inspiration to move me in order to produce something I’m happy with. Where do I find said inspiration? Nature, the art of others, my dreams; but mostly it comes from my own seething emotions. Ask yourself where you get your muse from and follow that.
Next, I find that the genesis of a masterpiece must be cathartic, otherwise it is not worth it. If it doesn’t purge some sort of uncomfortable thing inside of me then I may as well not even do it. Remember, art is there to serve the master first, and most artistically inclined people need catharsis on a regular.
Now let’s talk about mixing mediums. I love to do this. I mainly use acrylic paint because I like it. But I have used other benign materials mixed in with or overlaying my paint such as tin foil, rubber cement, water, cloth, charcoal, ink, oil and dirt. Other materials I have used are not so benign and may go against your stomach. These include ash, hair, skin, and blood (I’m a witch, I use DNA for important stuff). It’s up to you whether or not you mix mediums, but I find doing so enhances the catharsis and highlights the inspiration, not to mention adds texture and other properties (try rubber cement it’s an awesome way to combine color and gives a nice finish). I also love to add words to my paintings, often upside-down. I put in my own original poetry or snippets of text into a piece of art, as you can see in “Chiron“.
Now how are you going to apply the medium to the canvas or paper? There is the traditional way. Brushes are excellent, especially if you have a wide variety of tips and widths. Detail brushes are my personal favorite. But there are other ways to apply pigment and whatever else as well. You can use spray bottles, sponges, cloth, or my favorite-fingers! Each different application tool will give you different results. Some are cooler than others, but you can find that out for yourself when you try this at home.
A word on asymmetry and numbers: symmetrical figures make for beautiful people, especially when they are facial features. But I find that in art, asymmetry is where it’s at. Looking at my example, “Quarantine Street” at the top, you will see that nothing is quite lined up right. I never use ruler-straight lines or protractor-perfected angles. Why? this makes my art look fake and mechanical-and I don’t like that. Cubism utilizes exact angles and geometric shapes, but it also integrates multiple perspectives. In modernism you sometimes see very straight lines and exact angles as well. Clip art is usually “perfect” too. Graphic and digital art often take this approach and that is fine. It just isn’t for me as of yet. I sometimes write numbers in or have a specific number (usually 3 or 5) of the same type of figures in a piece. I personally don’t use even numbers very often, as it detracts from the asymmetry. But sometimes an even number, like “22” is just right.
Most of my works fit in best (I think, in my uneducated brain) with fauvism. I’m good with that, it appeals to me. Take my original here, “Happy Tree”. It is a wonderful example of this style of painting, in my mind. It is completely aesthetic and attached to the total freedom of nature. It is expressive, not realistic. It focuses on unreal chromatism with its strong, contrasting colors. It uses direct and vigorous brush strokes, it has deformation of the subject, and it rejects other disciplines. So there ya go. Fauvism. Perhaps as I evolve as an artist, I will want to try other styles, and that’s great too! I will just have to see where my whim takes me.
Let’s talk about bright colors vs duller colors. I love bright colors. The bigger and more obnoxious the better, in my opinion. But dull colors serve their purposes too. But it has to sit right with the piece overall. For the painting to the left, I used minimal colors and minimal frills. Here is the piece I call “Release”. As you can see, the painting is rather dull; and it was meant to be this way. This “masterpiece” is how I relate to and represent the anti-climactic feeling of absolutely letting go of every single thing, idea, and person in the world. I find this concept necessary to explore, as it embodies our very human existential experiences here on Earth. It may not look like much, but it means a whole lot.
One final point before I shut up: contrast. This is important in nearly all paintings. Whether it be black and white, red and black, red and white, or any other combination, contrast brings the vision to life. It creates space and depth, it aids in the flow of light, and makes a work of art pop. Some good examples of contrast can be found in Japanese art, with the use of monochrome in painting techniques. The example I have shown here, “Puppeteer of the Universe” is not monochrome, but there is plenty of contrast. The black and white, obviously, but also the pink/purple and black contrast each other nicely. Sure there are a few other colors thrown in, but it is the pink that really stands out to me here.
Last but not least, sign your work. Simply print out your name or come up with another creative way to sign, as long as it is on the face of your piece. And there you have it-art 101 as dictated by moi, the non-artist, non-teacher you have grown to love. Don’t be like me. Make the time (I swear I am going to within the week). Please try this at home. It is one of the many ways to boost your happiness and nurture your creative side. Plus, you’ll have something to show for it, and if you find your artistic flow, tell me about it in the comments-I would love to hear about your method. and see some of your canvas-bound emotions!
-Azrael (what I go by with my friends, family, and art signing!)