As someone with a degree in Musical Theatre, you would think I’ve known for a long time that art is a discipline. I really never thought about that as I was signing into the studio for an hour of vocal scales or filling notebooks with the “inner monologue” of the latest part I was playing. At the time, I just loved every minute of it and figured, since I was studying musical theatre, it made sense that I was doing things musical and theatre-y! I never really viewed it as work or practice, but then again, I had loved it since I was four.
Even though I worked hard and I took practices very seriously, I didn’t really put the connection between art and discipline together until recent years.
Discipline can be an “ugh” kind of word, but in this case, it should be an encouragement. It means that anyone can approach an art or creative endeavor knowing they can improve. Isn’t that awesome?! As someone who loves tip-toeing into new creative territory, I think that’s pretty awesome.
On that note, I have been practicing art a lot lately in the quiet hours after the boys are in bed. It’s been a very busy season of life and art has been my way to destress. I sit and focus on the painting and I don’t worry about time or due dates or laundry or grocery shopping. It’s a little retreat.
And in that retreat, I’m practicing. And I’m already seeing the fruit of that practice, so I thought I would share the progression…
I used this sepia-toned picture of my Oma as my first subject. I love her soft expression in this picture and I felt like it was relatively easy, since her mouth is closed, her face is pretty straight-on, and there aren’t a lot of shadows.
Here was my first watercolor portrait…
I painted it all in one color, Payne’s Gray, so I could focus on shapes and values and not worry about color. It took some of the intimidation out for me. I was really pleased with it, but I wanted to revisit the same portrait after more practice and, this time, I painted it in color…
It’s a much truer likeness and I really enjoyed working in color, which was something I was a little scared of! I used a palette of just four colors and I learned that limiting the colors can minimize the intimidation as well.
I have made a few color wheels with different reds, blues, and yellows and I chose to work with the softest palette – Cadmium Red, Yellow Ochre, and Cerulean Blue. I added Sepia to some of the darker areas, like the hair and pupils, to get a little more depth.
Here’s the wheel I worked off of…
I shared on Instagram that I have loved painting my Oma. She’s been my favorite subject. She died when I was in college, so I didn’t really get to know her as an adult, but as I was growing up, she was always one of my biggest cheerleaders. She flew out to Germany just to see me perform in a play.
In painting these portraits of her, I’ve been able to study her face in a way I haven’t before. I see a lot of myself in her face. It makes me a little sad, but there is something fulfilling in it as well.
Anyway, feeling pleased with my most recent portrait, I decided to try painting a beautiful old picture of my husband’s Aunt Nancy.
The sketch was coming along okay, but once I started painting, the shadows on the face got out of control and it ended up in the trash. I’ll have to do some studies on profiles and shadows and then come back to this one!
I wanted to get something done, so I drew out a face, trying to follow the “rules” of eye, nose, and mouth placement and I worked on colors and shadows more. It’s not finished, yet, but I’m enjoying the practice.
I think this girl needs some unruly hair.
I think I might tackle a self-portrait next, but I also loaded up a Pinterest Board with (mostly) royalty-free pictures, so I have plenty of subjects to sketch and paint for my practice.
And, I’m going to start taking a watercolor landscape class now! Fun stuff.
So, whether you want to pick up painting, photography, singing, sketching, sewing…whatever, you can do it! It just takes the discipline to practice and you’re on your way.
Have you been practicing anything new lately?
I have a lot of computer and design work to do this week to meet some deadlines, but I’m hoping to get some furniture done as well. That settee I ripped apart a few months ago is giving me the stink-eye.
In other news, I bought my plane tickets for China and I’ll be going there in less than three weeks! My mom will be traveling with me and, since we’re sitting on a plane for 14 hours to get there, we will be taking a few days to sight-see around Beijing. We’ll then take the high-speed train south where I’ll be working for a few days.
I’m already putting together a little travel set of watercolors and a sketch pad, so I can do some art journaling while I’m there…