Monday, March 15, 2021

How to Teach Yourself -- And What A Ride That Is!

I invite my blog followers to ask questions in the Comments that follow each post.  And I enjoy giving answers!  Today's post is a long-winded answer that I hope will be helpful for those who need it.

Commander James Lawrence, during a battle in the War of 1812, goes down in history as having said,  "Don't give up the ship!"

That goes for artworks that at first may seem "failures."  My outlook is that the goal of art-making is to have fun.  If I've enjoyed myself during the process as the art has evolved, it's not failure; instead it's (1) additional challenge to my creativity and (2) a valuable learning experience that will pay off in some way, someday.  

For me, art-making is a process of making changes -- then viewing those changes as challenges to creativity.  My art-making process is to continue making changes in response to each new challenge.  It's a progressive adventure!   

You can ask successful artists questions and they will answer out of their own individual experiences.  When you ask a number of successful artists, sometimes their answers will be similar but at other times they will differ.  This is the nature of creative art-making.  

Creativity is a gift that varies, at least somewhat, with each individual.   

My outlook is that you can ask a lot of questions, read a lot of books and visit a lot of galleries -- and yes, you should! -- yet I believe that at the end of the day, nothing can give you as much value for time spent as actually making art yourself.

Before covid-19, in-person art-making classes/workshops were a whole lot of fun, and I highly recommended them.  Every teacher had something of value to offer and every workshop participant likewise had something valuable to contribute.  This still holds true in today's world, thanks to technology having given us inspiring and creative on-line teachers like MaryBeth Shaw.

But, once inspired, I think the bottom line is that you teach yourself to paint or make mixed-media art; with hands-on experience, you become your own teacher.

And you never stop learning, which brings me back to my point that this whole process is meant to be a fun challenge.  What a ride!

So what's the answer -- or answers -- when you happen to make art that fails to satisfy you?  (Let me emphasize the word YOU.  I make art to satisfy myself, nobody else, and I suggest you do the same.)

I ask your indulgent patience as I go thru one of my art-making processes in today's post.  It's here because I think it helps to make my point.

I pulled out Abstract Backbones Composition Mask 1 s864 and  Abstract Backbones Composition Mask 2 s865 (both having been cut from their original 6" x 6" frames.)  

My photo below shows the first-step prints I've made using heavy-body Titanium White by Golden Paints.  (Middle left:  an additional black paper scrap printed with  Abstract Backbones Composition Mask 1 s864.)

Below:  I've re-applied the masks to the substrate, placing them in different places, and with a small sponge applicator, I've started to add copper metallic paint. 

My next step, shown below....

... shows another layer has been added, using the same masks, this time with heavy-body Golden Paints Titan Buff.

Today's next photo, below, shows that I decided to downsize the artwork, cutting it down to show off the areas that I felt were successful.  

Besides reducing it in size, I added collage paper that I'd made using Abstract Composition Backbones Mask 3 s866, combining that print with copper acrylic paint, black marker and Gelato.  This collage paper had originally been a larger print, but it too was trimmed; I "whittled" it down to the area that I'd felt most successful.

Not all prints, or series of multiple prints, are going to be successful, and that's okay.  Unsuccessful pieces can be cut down as I've done here, or they can be painted over or covered with collage papers. 

The shot above shows that I'm testing the piece to see how it will look matted, but doing this test doesn't mean I've finished.  

It does however help guide me to take the next step --

Above:  I've made additions:  (1) novelty black "lacy" paper in the upper right and lower left; (2) a vertical strip of paper decorated with copper and black alcohol inks; and (3) a small piece of novelty paper that's black and printed with copper metallic paint.

Below is a photo showing more embellishments I added -- a square of paper colored with black and copper alcohol inks, a brown-and-black paper, a few circles of textured off-white paper, and two strips of pinkish papers. 

To repeat something I wrote a few paragraphs ago, not all prints, or series of multiple prints, are going to be successful, and that's okay.  Unsuccessful pieces can be cut down, or they can be painted over, or covered with collage papers.

Originally I was happy with the piece as it appears in the photo directly above.  But after I'd set it aside for a week or so, I came to see it with new eyes.  To me at that point, it looked too cluttered.  At first I was going to cover some key areas with translucent high-fiber mulberry paper that's pale beige in color.

That might have worked.

But instead, I decided to canibalize it. 

With my heavy-duty paper cutter, I sliced it into pieces in varied sizes....

.... and I started to combine these scraps with other scraps in the same color scheme.  My combinations ended up on greeting card covers, but they could just as easily been pages in an art journal.  Here they are --

Above: two greeting cards side-by-side.  The card on the right has just a small piece of the newly chopped-up artwork, placed in the lower right area.  The larger area, filling the left half of this card, was printed with my 6" x 6" Looking Up Through Trees Small s793.

Below:  two more cards, side-by-side.

Below:  today's last mini-collage, likewise created on a greeting card blank.  (The card is cut from heavy-weight gold metallic cardstock available at  LCI Paper.)


Just remember:  Creativity is a gift that varies with each individual.  This is your unique journey.  Make it with joy! 

Thanks for stopping here at my blog today!  To scroll thru the pages of my StencilGirl stencils and masks, please start here.

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