I finally figured something out. I don’t have to paint fine details. I can do collage. I can draw what I want separately, using watercolor pencils on watercolor paper. Then I cut it out and glue it to the painting. This is such a relief.
One of my problems is that my ideas far outstretch my abilities. I’m not very good at painting yet. I’m trying, but it is going to take a while. Meanwhile all these ideas keep coming that would work best using painting.
I have taken only one art class, and that was in high school. I don’t really know what I’m doing. I feel like a feral child, wanting to communicate but I don’t have a language. So I’m making it up as I go.
One of my fears with painting is there is no “undo” button. If I make a mistake, it is hard to fix. It isn’t like working digitally. Plus, it doesn’t work well with my schedule. If I only have 20 minutes to work on art, there isn’t really enough time to paint and clean up.
I have a space painting I was working on. I’d created the black background earlier. Just remembering to paint the background first was a big deal. I thought I was going to paint planets and stars on it. In the meantime, I started sorting stamps and fortune cookie messages, and came across an old packet of just space stamps. They are pretty awesome, and I thought I should use them here. But since they are so rare and I’m so unsure of my abilities, I went ahead and color copied them.
Yes, I wrote a whole blog post about not doing that. Yes, I did it. Whatever makes the art happen counts. I used funny scrap-booking scissors to cut the edges. It is more interesting than a plain square cut, and it sort-of gives the impression that it is a stamp. I looked for scrap-booking scissors that cut like stamp edges, but I didn’t find them. I had these, and I used them.
I really liked one stamp of a lady astronaut. I plan on mixing in other stamps and calling this piece something like “Can’t we all get along / In Space” and having Space be the place where women and men are finally equal and respected.
The stamp is a bit disembodied though. I didn’t want just her head floating around. So I wanted to paint a body for her, but again I felt like I would mess it up. Then I had a flash. Draw it separately using watercolor pencils and cut it out. I put the stamp on the paper for scale and drew around it. It worked great.
I’ve been using watercolor pencils for a year now, so I’m comfortable with them. I pulled out an older piece that I don’t really like and tested the fixatives on it. I used decoupage glue on one section, and matte medium on another. From that I learned what will work best and how to apply it. I also used some of the matte medium on a color copied stamp to see if it would affect it. I know it works great on real stamps, but this is different. So I put it together and I can’t be more pleased.
I don’t really know why I didn’t think of this sooner. Matisse did something like this in his later years. He cut out construction paper and glued it together. Eric Carle does this – he paints big pieces of paper and cuts them out. This isn’t quite the same, but in a way it is.
I am also working on a painting with inuksuit – the Inuit rock sculptures. They aren’t just sculptures – they provide direction and tell something about the area. One will indicate a good place to hunt. One will indicate a beautiful thing to look at in the distance. One will mark an initiation area. Each different shape has meaning, and is often the only way to navigate in a snowy land.
Here is a picture of one that indicates a direction to travel. It reminds me of a Japanese torii gate.
I was going to draw the whole thing with this new technique and then I had another idea. Draw the stones separately, and assemble them.
Sure, I’ll work on getting better at painting using brushes. That is the only way to get in any detail. But in the meantime, I’m glad I’ve discovered this.