week fourth: paint something

I save stuff to paint on. I’ve literally had this scroll thing since I was in middle school. No joke. It was not unlike this one I found online…

At first, I guess I liked the ladies who sat on the grass in the artwork. I cut off the year at the end of the scroll many years ago. The menu was on the back.

Then a number of years ago I decided I wanted to paint something on it, so I fixed the string from fraying, it had begun to fall apart, ya see, and I painted it with gesso to try to make it sturdy again. See, gesso is made with paint and glue and is great for almost any type of paint or ink you want to use on it. It’s a great first layer, giving an artist a clean surface. There’s a layer of color applied afterward, likely acrylic watered down, and applied with a sponge for an old paper effect. It’s old. It’s paper, but now it looked nice.

Well, for this week’s blog I thought I would finish something. I have long visualized an elephant, trunk outstretched, on this scroll. I just hadn’t gotten around to it. My grandbabies need wall art. I could finish up this test of fortitude assignment, and finish up a project that’s been kicking around in my head to boot!

I sketched the elephant, and gave him a reason to be stretching. He’s got an apple to get to. I started with watercolor. However, this material wasn’t soaking it up like I wanted, so I switched to acrylic. Less water, quick drying. Here’s a blog on the main differences between the two. Watercolor is more subtle, but tougher to use. They’re both water-soluble, but acrylic is more opaque, that is less transparent. I didn’t want to mess up this thirty year old scroll I’d been saving.

Here’s as far as I got with the watercolor.

I love the texture! So much!! I stuck with burnt umber when I switched, but the color wasn’t going to be exact. It’s fine though, because, where’s the fun in exact?

I stuck with just a few colors on the elephant. Like I said, the base layer, under the elephant is already done. It has been for a while. So, I just used orange, burnt sienna, burnt umber and white to color in the elephant. When you start planning a painting, limit colors. I’ve learned many times over that it’s better to mix up a lighter or darker color from the ones in your limited pallet than it is to introduce another tone to a painting. There’s more consistency! Here’s a cool color palette generator by Adobe. It’s fun to tweak a color and see what happens to the others.

Then I did the apples, using the same orange first, to carry the color to the tree above, I like the colors to connect the piece, I guess. Then I added white for reflection and red for deep areas. I decided not to use black on any portion of it. Instead using a dark green mixed with brown, like in the elephant for the tree limbs. I brought a little of that green into the darkest parts of the elephant’s shadows as well. If you are just starting to paint, it’s good to get together the colors you need first. Here’s a list of a good set of first colors. I don’t agree with all of them. I think you can get away with a few less. I mean, who needs a pre-mixed purple? We’ve all been to kindergarten, no? Green is a little different, you can’t always achieve the right shade of green with primary colors, especially if you mix it more than once.

Added a little more shadow and highlight, smudged the ear around. I also used a tiny piece of paper to figure out where the heck to put the eye. Found the perfect spot.

I think he needs a little cushion for his tushie, like a tuft of grass. It would bring the green to the bottom and give it a little more balance. It was also brought to my attention that a little quote would go well in the space on the right, perhaps in a flowing font. I’ll think about that. I’m not sure I’m pro-quote, but if the kiddos would like it, why not?

I’ve had a good time not thinking too hard before starting a project. I find I still spend as much time on it, I still pain a little over the details, but just making sure to produce something has been cathartic. It has helped to cement for me that it isn’t about having an exact idea of the end in sight. Not every project has to mean something or be perfect! It’s more important just to finish.

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