*WARNING:OVERLY LONG POST AHEAD!!!*
For this week’s art experience, I used green, yellow and an eggshell white paint to create a picture portraying Corduroy the Bear in a forest. I unfortunately did not read what the activity entailed until after I had purchased my colors (and decided I wanted to make a finger painting of Corduroy) so when I read the details of the activity and looked at my colors, I felt a little discouraged since my colors were so neutral. Nevertheless, life in my eyes is about seeing potential in everything and turning obstacles into opportunities so instead of buying new paint or creating something boring, I decided to challenge myself and came up with a plan to – still include the bear in the painting, which would be the “structured” part of the activity – have the background be the “carefree” aspect of the project; the challenge portion would be to be as carefree as I wanted with my background and then “salvage” in a way any messiness I create and turn it into an acceptable piece of art.
For my project, I did the “carefree” stuff first so I wouldn’t be tempted to paint something that would look good with the “planned” portion of the project. I used the yellow paint, and some of the yellow mixed with white, first to make streaks in the middle of the paper and then let my fingers slip and slide in the bottom of the paper. I wanted to play around more with the look of the paint as it was on the paper so I went towards the sides of the paper and used my fingers and the green paint to use tapping motions and create little dots of colors. It wasn’t until I stepped back after laying on the green that I noticed that the things that I painted resembled leaves – the yellow ones sort of looked like leaves in clusters and the green reminded me of a thick shrub or a dense tree. I decided to run with that and mixed the yellow and green paint, as well as the white and green paint, to create a lime green color and a mint to add more definition to the green trees. I also used the white paint to create birch trees that would be amongst the yellow foliage and would give it more of that forest appearance.
I then went on to use the solid yellow and green paints to make my bear; I played around with the natural viscosity of the paint and used the initial darkness of the wet paint for areas on the bear, like the balls of his feet and the center of his ears, that were meant to be darker and the lighter shade the paint would take on as it was running out on my fingers to create the appearance of “fuzz” on the edges of his ears, cheeks and paws. I also tried to use the “tooth” and texture of the paper to my advantage when painting his pants since the paper’s texture was emphasized when using the diffused green paint, resulting in Corduroy’s pants resembling the texture of real corduroy pants.
Lastly, I went in with a couple of the oil pastels we had previously used to make up for the lack of color there was – I used reds, warm browns and gray to add detail to the birch trees and leaves, as well as a white to emphasize and make more opaque the color of the trees’ bark. I finished off the details on my bear and the other trees with a black pastel to give it what my brother calls “that old children’s book style” and a black Sharpie for small, fine details.
The idea for the challenge was inspired by a couple YouTube videos I was watching, one called “The Three Marker Challenge” where a professional artist would have to pick three random marker colors and create a full piece of art using only those tools/markers, and another called “The Cheap Art Supply Challenge” where artists would go to a dollar store and pick up “cheap” art supplies and create a piece of art using only those supplies. The point of these challenges is to teach young artists – or anyone who blames the amount of supplies they own or the tools’ quality for the poor quality of their art – that you don’t need a lot of really high end, professional, expensive tools in order to make good art since, at the end of the day, the quality of your art only depends on how much skill you have as an artist and how creative you get with your art and tools. Sure, fancier tools might make the job easier or look slightly better (aka. be more pigmented, vibrant, smooth etc.) than the cheaper things but it’s not impossible to make great art with few or low quality supplies.
-white, yellow, and green paint
-assorted oil pastel colors
- What was the experience like?
This experience was very therapeutic; I haven’t finger painted, or painted at all, since I was in grade school and at first, feeling the slippery paint against the paper felt very strange. When I first started, I was very concerned with not getting paint on any of my mom’s furniture or on my pjs but the more I stopped stressing out about small things, the more I found myself having fun – so much fun that I was on the floor painting for almost two hours!
- Was it easier, harder, or different than you expected?
I think that at first I was a little afraid since my paint colors were very basic but after I thought to mix in the white to create more colors, I felt a little more at ease with the project; it turned out to not be as hard or as intimidating as I initially thought.
- How was the experience of making a painting with no subject? Confusing & Frustrating? Liberating & Inspiring?
It was a little nerve-wracking at first since I wanted to be carefree with my background but still have it make sense with the other aspects of my painting. You can pretty much be as messy as you want with trees and foliage so when I was just letting my hands do their thing and get paint wherever they wanted, it felt scary because in my head I was thinking “how will I be able to salvage this if it all takes a turn and doesn’t make sense in the end?” but at the same time I was kind of hoping it would look crazy that way it would be more of a challenge. The way I see things is, whether it’s art or life experiences, sometimes it’s better and more beautiful when things don’t go to plan and end up different than what you anticipated.
- How does this compare to other paintings you have seen?
Because the bear was planned and I used other mediums to help improve the look of it, I think my painting looks a little more planned out than those of the previous students who did this activity but I still like it and I still had a lot of fun creating it! It’s a little more structured than that of the others but still beautiful in my eyes 🙂