How I learned to Paint

So I have a cute story about how I got started on my artistic journey: When I was a young child, probably around 5 or 6 I was playing with crayons. I was working on a drawing of a genie. The whole image right except for the shoes. I knew my mom could finish out the shoes for me because she was my mom and an adult and should could do anything. I was shocked when she told me that she didn't know how to draw genie shoes. I decided then that if I wanted pictures with proper footwear I would need to learn to draw them myself. 


I've been fortunate in my upbringing that my parents have always encouraged me with art and have given me access to any instruction I might want and need. From elementary though Jr high I went to group art lessons at an artist's house where we got to work on our own projects of all different mediums (clay day was always the best!). In junior high and high school I had one on one lessons where I learned the basics of acrylic painting, drawing and color mixing. 

So from there I went to college and started making my way through the BFA program at Midwestern State University. All of those art lessons from my childhood gave me a strong foundation of color, composition and some technical ability. Unfortunately, without the close supervision of an instructor I couldn't do anything. It totally sucked. I had all these half formed ideas of what I wanted to, but I could never get it out and it was endlessly frustrating for me. 

So one day I decided that I needed to figure out this painting thing. So instead of thinking of art as this magical creative act that is birthed into the universe I approached a painting as a problem that needed to be solved: I had a photo on a piece of paper and that image needed to be painted on a canvas. The paintings after weren't that good, but at least I could finish one. It was a bunch of trial and error until I could come up with some pieces that I could show in public.

Now painting for me is a process that is still evolving, but I am equipped with the knowledge and tools I need to get something respectable out (most of the time). Its still some trial and error, but its not on such a frustrating basic level. 

Still Unsighted

In January I decided that I would kick off a new year of art by repainting a favorite from undergrad just to see how much better I could do it 3 years later. I should have posted this sooner, but I procrastinated on getting a quality photo of the newer piece. 

Unsighted,  Watercolor and ink on paper, 21x30, 2011

Unsighted, Watercolor and ink on paper, 21x30, 2011

I did a whole series of blindfolded portraits for my undergraduate senior exhibition. That body of work reflected on an intense anxiety I had about what direction I would go in life after graduation. I was afraid of what life would be like without the structure of being in school. The portrait shown above might have been my 3rd or 4th watercolor painting ever. 

Still Unsighted,  Watercolor on paper, 21x15, 2014

Still Unsighted, Watercolor on paper, 21x15, 2014

There is definitely a technical improvement over the 2011 painting! I'm using more colors in my flesh tone. When you see the new painting next to the old one you see a painfully obvious lack of darker tones in the flesh in 2011. I also ditched the ink outline. 

Its kind of funny that the sentiment of first painting still rings true 3 years later. I still have anxiety about the future. What kind of life do I want, what is important to me, what kind of person do I want to be and how do I get there? My next big life step that I'm absolutely dreading is deciding about having children. Its the new deadline for me and its something that weighs on my just like graduation day did for me during college.