My painting journey has been a very mixed one, full of disappointments, frustration, and self-loathing. Even though I did Art as a subject to Year 12, my forte was pattern and design and lettering — stuff that had form and framework, and where you could paint in solid colours inside the lines. Landscapes, still life, portraits, etc. were all a dismal failure for me, and I was glad to see the back of them.
I didn’t touch a paintbrush again until the early 1990s when I did a summer school course in drawing and painting from nature. I loved that! We focused on botanical drawing, and were taught by a woman who had drawn and painted all the known species of fungi in Western Australia. I got a lot of pleasure out of painting a shell, or a stick with interesting bark, or a sprig of lavender. But probably within a year, I’d put away the paints and watercolour paper as the pressure of horrendous hours at work and life in general took over.
25+ years on and I was in a gap between making and quilting quilts. I’d done several Craftsy.com quilting classes and when Craftsy had a ‘50% off all classes’ sale on, I decided to try a couple of their ‘basic’ drawing classes, just to see if it interested me. I’ve since done a shading class (using pencil and ink/markers), a couple of mixed media classes (ink/markers and watercolour), and have more lined up to try. I also did some watercolour classes on YouTube. Some have been better than others, but I’ve followed along and learnt different techniques from each teacher. And I’ve surprised myself. I’ve painted water (probably for the first time — I can’t recall painting water when I was at school), and have learnt techniques for making waves with paint and with masking medium. I still have a long way to go before I’m proficient, but I’m no longer scared of painting, and I look forward to learning lots more.
Below are some of my first efforts, with the photo inspiration (where appropriate), and the Craftsy class I did or the videos I saw on YouTube.
Shading Techniques (Holmes)
My pear shape went a little pear-shaped! Need to work on the drawing aspect…
Watercolour techniques with Gay Kraeger
This was a series of YouTube classes for Strathmore paper, and I learnt enough to tackle an ocean scene based on a photo — my first effort with watercolour in decades, and my first-ever ocean.
The photo above was my inspiration. My interpretation is below.
Travel sketching in mixed media (Holmes)
I did a few exercises based on his photos, with mixed results.
Then I did my own based on a photo I took in 2014 in the mountains near Logan, Utah:
I learnt that you have to add the dark last, otherwise you end up with the horrible blobby brown for the tree on the right side, with the much darker background trees showing through!
Illustrated Nature Journaling (Kraeger)
Similar to her free YouTube videos, Kraeger teaches lots of really practical techniques for creating sand, clouds, water, etc. One of the techniques for waves is using a masking medium that you rub off once everything is dry. Below is my first effort with that medium. And my first-ever breaking waves!