Phoenix nebula

So I thought I was going to have a book cover reveal this week. Yep, that’s not happening, Life has blown this week out of the water. I’m counting myself fortunate enough to be doing this post, thought it’ll probably be short unless I find myself with something suddenly to say or rattling on like this sentence is. Yeah, I go off like that sometimes. *grin*

I thought I’d show you one of the paintings I finished last week. I do wish I had more work in progress pictures of it, but I wasn’t certain about this painting. It probably really hit rock bottom when I had just started it and my youngest son walked by and said, “So, Mom, what’s up with the eclipse and the alligator.”

Eclipse and alligator? Well he wasn’t wrong. Here’s sort of what he was seeing:

You see the “eclipse” at the top of the painting and the alligator at the bottom left. I do believe this is actually after he had made his comment and I had started a second coat, getting rid of the alligator’s open jaws so much. You can still see the two parts sticking out that originally made it’s mouth. Yep, can’t get much worse from there.

I wish I’d remembered to take a picture of the first layer when I started, but I really did feel like I’d messed it up right from the get-go. Then the eclipse and alligator really made me question it. But I had this burr that I really wanted to work with, to try this, to see what would happen. So I continued. That’s when I ended up with the picture above, and then this.

This is after a few more layers and some stars added. I was tempted to go with the angel look here, but I decided to hold to the idea I really wanted.

More layers, added so black back to it, and more stars. This is the finished piece.

I really want to do this, or something like this, on a larger canvas. I am having so much fun with these space nebulae. I’m learning something new with each one. It’s definitely been an interesting journey. I never thought I’d be creating these as beautiful as they are. My first attempts at nebulae were so awful. I’m glad the urge to continue attempting to paint these never abandoned me.

Onward! Let us continue our explorations!

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Nebula on a hexagon

My six-sided painting. I was pretty excited to find this canvas. I knew immediately that I wanted to do a space painting on this. Once I felt ready, I painted the canvas black. The picture above shows it all prepared and ready.

My first layer:

It’s hard not to block a painting in like this and not absolutely hate it and fear that it’s been messed up. But, the painting must continue.

Here’s the next layer:

Now we’re getting some of the misty cloudiness into the piece.

In the next layer, the stars start to shine:

More layers come next, more stars, and adding some of the black of space back in. Finally we end up with this:

There was a point at which I really messed everything up. I didn’t grab my phone to take a picture though; I knew my paint was drying quickly. That probably returned the fun to this painting. I’d started to take it too seriously and quit having fun with it. In causing a catastrophe on the canvas and knowing I had little time to fix it, I had to attack it with courage and release everything. Believe me, at the time I really wasn’t sure I’d be saving it. It was extremely hard to release the fear. Words make it sound so easy, but at the time it was horrible. I instantly projected myself into the future where I had to paint the canvas black once more to restart and regretted the past where I wished I hadn’t touched it so much. I was everywhere but the present.

Grounding yourself with courage puts you firmly in the moment. There’s an obstacle that must be overcome and only by stepping forward can this obstacle be hurdled.

This painting could have easily gone the other way where I did have to go through the future of repainting it that I had imagined. However, I’m glad I kept working it and gave myself the chance.

As my friend, J.D. Estrada, said a few days ago on an Instagram post, “Self doubt is an option, but so is believing in yourself.”

This weekend, believe in yourself.

Happy adventuring!

When things get torn…

After my last show of 2018, my son was helping me pack up the car. He was carrying 2 paintings out when he slipped on a patch of ice. In catching himself, he dropped both paintings. He, fortunately, didn’t hit the cement or hurt himself. But when he reached down to pick the paintings up, he saw that one of the paintings had gone through the other.

“Please be the waterfall,” he thought to himself. “PLEASE be the waterfall!” He knew that of the two, I would be less angry about the waterfall painting getting destroyed rather than the lotus painting.

It was the lotus painting.

He told me when we got home and we were unpacking the important things that couldn’t stay out in the cold and snow,. I could tell he felt badly about it; this wasn’t the first painting he’d put a hole in. I’m sure it won’t be the last. (Okay, the boy has even put a hole in my trailer wall — why he has to break everything, I don’t know!) Yes, actually, I do: he’s a boy. *grin*

The tear in the canvas was a clean 90 degree square. It wasn’t huge. It could have been worse. I figured this would repair fairly easily.

It took more patience than I thought it would.

I took a piece of muslin and some gesso, covering the back side of the canvas around the hole, and pressed it flat. Gesso squeezed up between the tear. I then covered the patch on the back with gesso, making it nice, smooth, and strong.

This is a picture of the gesso coming through the tear to the front.

In retrospect, I should have filled in the whole crack while it was wet. I think it would have been easier to fix the scar if I had. But, I didn’t know. I’ve only repaired one other canvas before so I felt I was still working on bare minimum knowledge in practice. I had learned a lot from that first painting and I knew I’d learn even more with this one. That I should have filled and leveled the whole thing then is valuable information I will take to the next tear should (when) this happen(s) again.

This was my first attempt at covering it up. I started out with some blue, then brought in some white. Like I said, I didn’t have a whole lot of patience and I thought this would be a fairly easy process at this point. As I layered up paint, I saw that I was going to have to do this in layers and it might require some light sanding in between coats.

Here’s what it looked like when I really started filling in the scar.

It seemed like I spent a lot of time alternating blue and white. It took a lot of coats to fill in the scar. Yes, I did some sanding too, very carefully around the edges. I didn’t want to take paint off of the scar where I was trying to fill in, only on the canvas so that it would retain some of the tooth.

I started thinking that I might want some pictures of the canvas that weren’t closeups. So here’s the picture from above as it is on the canvas. It looks big here, but this shot isn’t the whole painting.

Finally I start to get a good fill on the tear. It’s still visible, but just barely.

And here’s what the canvas looks like at this point:

Can you even see it? The second lotus petal from the bottom points right at it. Great, I’ll never lose the tear again now that’ I’ve noticed that!

Still building up layers:

At this point, I’m also bringing more clouds in around the vines at the bottom. They always bugged me with how they seemed to stick out. It looked like a lotus blossom superimposed over clouds, rather that actually being part of the sky. This is me fixing that because at this point, what do I have to lose?

Repair done:

Well, at least as far done as I have pictures for. I did add another couple of touch-ups last weekend while I was painting, a few highlights here and there.

If you look closely at this painting from the side, or get up close to the canvas where the tear it, you can still traces of it. I don’t think it would ever completely go away. Besides, the big white spot on the back is a sign that something catastrophic happened. Overall, I think I did a good job repairing this canvas. It’ll continue going with me to art shows until someone decides that they want it hanging on their wall.

Sometimes, you just have to heal the best you can and move on with your life. You can’t always hide all the scars perfectly.

It was a date, remember?

So on yesterday’s blog, I showed some pictures of a space painting I’d been working on in 2018 and thought I had done.

But then, as any good tale would have, conflict struck.

I painted another picture that made it look like garbage. Well, what’s an artist supposed to do?

I’d say that the correct answer is not to pull is back up on the easel and keep working on it, but I know that’s exactly what a lot of painters do. But I do understand the need to let something hang for a bit so you can look at it just to let your mind mull it over.

So let’s talk about this painting.

I started this painting the same night that I started the other two paintings, but I was way too embarrassed to show it. I honestly thought I’d be painting over it. I mean, what do you do when you have a mess like this to start off with? So I let it sit with some creative procrastination for a while. I figured if I didn’t look at it, I wouldn’t think about how badly I would feel at having to paint it over because it was a horrible start. However, I had some ideas I wanted to experiment with, so I decided I’d play and see what happened. I figured it was only a 8″x10″ flat panel canvas, so who cared if I messed it up so badly that I ended up breaking it in half over my knee like a ninja master? If nothing else, I would learn something.

But I sure as heck wouldn’t advertise my intent to fail.

Nope.

I took a picture for me to document my learning process and didn’t show it to anyone.

Then, on January 1st, I decided it was time to pull out the painting and play with it. How better to get a start at painting for the new year than to learn if I could or couldn’t pull this painting out of the fire.

This was the next layer. Honestly, by now I was a little wowed by the hole thing. It was so simple, and yet so pretty. Just brushstrokes.

Look at the depth now starting to come into this piece. There was a part of me that wanted to stop right here.

But, I’m a fool and I pressed on.

Here it is finished:

Yes, there are parts of this I wish I’d been able to express some self-control on, but I do wish the picture did it justice too. I’m happy with the lessons it taught me and and that I managed to save a painting I wasn’t sure would work out.

So, for hoots and giggles, let’s look at the “finished” painting from yesterday compared to this on:

I hope you see what I mean when I said it nearly made me want to cry. The “finished” painting seemed so clumsy and blockish compared to the smooth grace of the new one.

Now let’s see them both together after that 1st one had the reworking:

What a dramatic improvement, don’t you think?

I wonder what will get cooked up this weekend on my easel. Just after I continue working on my edits for Tangled Magic.