Confession: I am a color addict. I experience an artistic high when colors “make my eyes glow”. A shiver runs down my back, I get light headed, I feel tingly all over, I feel holy, (yes, spiritual) and inspired. My own paintings illustrate my addiction. Every. Single. Time. Color expresses me, I express color, my world is high definition color.
Of course, I was drawn to the professional QoR High Chroma set (good job marketing QoR). I’ve been using the QoR watercolors in silver and gold to offer hand embellishments for my limited edition prints. I’ve been impressed with the effect, they are true silver and gold and painting with them is like laying molten metal down. Additionally, QoR claims high quality, modern and superior color vividness. I’ve been using the widely regarded professional grade Winsor and Newton and Sennelier honey-based watercolors for years and years. They are top notch. The first time I laid down a professional watercolor, I felt like I the world cracked open as the color exploded on the paper. Oh the highest most radical color high! And my work exponentially improved.
Would it be possible to feel this way again?
Tip: If you want to pursue any kind of art, do not skimp on the quality of your paint or paper, simply don't do it. You will fail before you start.
The set has 6 colors:
Green Gold – what an awesome name for a color
Transparent Pyrrole Orange
In short, a vivid, funky and perhaps “modern” rainbow. I love them so much that I might just marry them. Perhaps it was the unique-to-me color palette but they completely distracted me.
Here are some qualities I noticed about them that made them unique.
1. The color is a little more sticky than my other colors, meaning in more medium wet application it will stain the paper more quickly making it a little more difficult to remove and lift. But this also makes it easier to create quick layered effects.
2. Cobalt Teal is an interesting opaque watercolor, and when it is applied over warm hues it creates an unique texture. You can see this in the painting on the right and left. It also mixes really well with green gold.
3. Look at that Green Gold on the right! It easily applied in those glowing layers. I love it!
4. I don’t work with a lot of purple watercolors, preferring to mix them. I find bottled purple dull. Diaxazine Purple is thick and can be applied very darkly, almost serving as a black but watered down it is brightand a true smooth purple (not grainy like some purples). Add a little of the magenta to it and wow.
This is only the beginning, I’ve got a couple more projects to wrap up and then I’m coming back to this. I see potential. Plus, I’m a color addict, always hunting for my next high :).
Healing is its own process, not controlled, but guided -like tending to a garden. Healing needs a lot of good things and not too much of any of it; nutrition, exercise, happiness, water, sleep, good company and relaxation. It is organic, non-linear with great days and not so good days while new limits and abilities are discovered. It isn’t a one-way proposition like building with legos or molding with play dough. It is a partnership and dance with the body even when the body feels like a traitor. But this traitor desperately needs love. It is difficult to love a traitor. Traitors make things personal. Traitors make you want to turn your back too. Traitors can make you feel bitter.
I had high expectations for healing when I left on this vacation. I expected this vacation to force my healing into submission. I expected to return a different person than the one that arrived two weeks earlier.
Fall has been difficult. Recovery from my herniated disc has been good, but slow. And as my leg got stronger, my allergies went out of control. My eczema on my hands and face started to spread. My eye even swelled up and broke out and for weeks it wouldn’t go away. I suspect the combination of the cortisone shot, less exercise, sudden change in weather and stress. I was uncomfortable to sit in any room in the house. My face hurt, my hands hurt, I didn’t like sleeping for fear I’d wake up and my eye would be swollen shut. Creams didn’t work. Drugs didn’t work much. It felt like a downward spiral and I could not bounce back.
I needed sun and fresh air. I needed to get away from dust, pollen, harsh cold air. I needed to rebalance my immune system. I needed a vacation. The vacation would fix everything.
I arrived and the rash on my hands were burning so badly I soaked them with a wash cloth. It hurt to be in the pool and my face stung from the chlorine. My leg went numb as an aftershock to long hours of sitting on an airplane. It seemed it all got worse instead of better.
But then it got even worse. I got sick; a killer sore throat and fatigue. My husband included a fever in his version. Our son a hacking, croaking cough. This was followed by a brief bout with Montezuma’s revenge on day 5. Then some other irritants; ingrown hairs, break outs, cracked lips and chafed, bleeding skin. Coupled with the ever present expectation that this vacation was supposed to be about healing, I felt like I was being torn down completely.
It reminded me of remodeling our house. It always got worse before the project got better. Walls are knocked down, drywall explodes, dust flies, beams are exposed, wires everywhere and the mess spreads from the room to the streets. And then the rebuilding begins, and a turning point as it all comes back together, lighter, composed, beautified and a new home from the old.
And slowly, it did turn. My hands completely healed and the eczema receded. The numbness in my foot disappeared. My first run on the beach felt like heaven. By the end of the second week, I realized that my leg felt strong (not just pain-free) though occasionally numb still. My back felt stable to the point that lifting some light weights, including by kids, didn’t feel risky. My husband and I salsa danced! Progress emerged and it surprised me.
I’m not a perfectly done project. 2 weeks isn’t long enough to heal my back, I’ve got another 6 months to go they tell me. And I’ve got a lingering rash on my eye that is actually getting better at home. My comfort level as I write is so much healthier than when I left.
And here is something new for me; vacations are about healing. I love to travel and have many vacations and adventures under my belt. And upon reflection, there was always an element of healing in each one. I return and I feel stronger.
Which means, away or at home, we are always in some state of healing? I’m thinking a lot about this and how much of my art work reflects on healing, even in the prayers we cast.
Inspiration comes from the most unexpected places. This drawing is my son’s most recent dragon. A dragon that spits fire, water, rainbow, stars, snow, and anything else that comes to my boy’s mind. I love the energy that went into his frenzied inspiration as he drew and told the story of this dragon. I love the large lower jaw and teeth, the chicken legs and ultra-fancy wing. The composition of the body is a dragon meets T-Rex meets Tasmanian devil without arms. Fierce but friendly, a dragon that means well, powerful and ultimately scary but awe-inspiring. As I watched this dragon unfold, and listened to Daire’s story, I knew I had to paint this one.
Been working on adding more basic decoration to all of the dragon, working in one green for the body with the intent to bring in other shades later for depth. The wings are shades of pink, purple and cobalt blue and all shades within in but I’ll come back to them and bring more shading in as well.
I’ve deepened the coloring in the body and wings and started coloring in his fire, water, stars breathing capability. I haven’t decided if he is sitting on a cloud, a rainbow, the moon, a tree, a flower yet. I just can’t seem to decide, maybe I will ask Daire himself.
The sum of two ones is not an even number, or numerical. When two ones meet, the universe unfolds, creating an infinity that burns. Its slow heat gently soothes and violently simmers all the knots and can’ts. A practical alchemy that un-peals once invisible layers. Water becomes fire, stone to steam, breath to lava. Leftover, is a newly-colored numberless world of hope, anticipation and possibility.
Watercolor 12″ x 16″
This painting was a commission and handed over to a happy client today. My client told me a love story, gave me a sense of preferences and then gave me creative freedom to interpret it.
The shape of change is indistinct.
A transformation that folds and blooms into itself infinitely.
An unpredictable death of echoing patterns and shapes.
An inevitable rebirth with deep set roots.
A foreshadow of time.
I had the good fortune to host a watercolor lesson at Stoneway Crossfit as one of their community building ladies’ potluck and sip nights on December 6th. And if Success = fun + learning – I’m confident this night was successful.
This was my very first attempt at teaching others some painting techniques and definitely a challenge for someone that largely paints intuitively. But with over a dozen years of experience teaching I could hardly plead that I didn’t have the skills to tackle it. And I’ve always loved teaching, so why not?
To begin with the supplies we used:
Arches 140lb 100% watercolor paper mounted on 11″ x 14″ panels. The best watercolor paper is necessary for success and to really experience the full characteristics of painting with watercolor!
Winsor and Newton Student Grade watercolors: Cadmium Yellow Hue, Ultramarine and Cadmium Red Deep Hue
daVinci #6 round, #2 round (and a #4 flat that we didn’t use) synthetic brushes. These are stiff brushes that are easy on beginner hands, but need a bit of water massaging to loosen up. I recommend getting familiar with only one or two brushes in the beginning.
Q-Tips and cotton pads for dabbing up water and pulling up mistakes.
Jars of water
Strips of paper for testing the paint before painting
Wash cloths for cleaning off the brushes.
Because this was a crossfit night, I was asked to teach a crossfit theme and used my Lady of Power, the Overhead Squat, as a template.
I used tracing paper to trace the basic composition for the class and this allowed me to focus the course on techniques of watercolor.
This exercise allowed us to walk through some very basic techniques circle by circle, letting everyone build skills. Then we combined skills to create more advanced effects. We were able to cover:
Wet on dry washes
Wet on wet techniques
mixing colors in the palette
layering colors on the paper
using gravity to paint
combining wet and dry techniques to create shading
By the time we worked on the final shape, the difference in confidence and technique was apparent as everyone tackled the nuances of shading.
Some lessons I learned:
Show how to fix mistakes first to build confidence in painting from the beginning.
Beginners like lots of guidance, they want step by step and examples.
A end goal and final picture kept everyone focused and motivated.
Focus on less for quality in the final product. These students want something they can hold up and be proud of creating.
Repetition is always good.
Get permission to post pictures of people on my blog!
Overall, the night was fun, satisfying, challenging and a learning experience for everyone.
Some days the winds wrap us up so tight we become the eye of the tornado. Trapped inside, the world collapses on itself and there is no gust we can grasp. The storm picks us up and ponders what it will do while we uselessly fight, kick and scream against the assault and injustice. Then we let go of trying to rein the wind. The chaos unwinds. The winds unfold and beautifully reveal unexpected surprises.