All of us artist types need a little alcove for making messes. Pictured here is my said alcove. It’s just the laundry basin in my studio, but it is a sanctuary to me and my messes because it conveniently offers a water source for thinning my water based paints and mediums, and for cleaning and caring for my brushes after they perform their dedicated duty of applying paint to surface. A kitchen cutting board cantilevers over the basin, supported by only two sides of the sink, but still manages to provide a fairly sturdy flat surface for my favorite and most frequently used items. It also allowed for me to make a spot for the wildflower bouquet my daughter and nieces picked for me from our canyon. Humble sea lavender, yellow oxalis, and orange nasturtium make a simple retired jam jar quite the jubilant celebration! That invasive yellow oxalis, barges in on every vacant field this time of year, and the empty lot next to our home is no exception. But I don’t mind, because to me even this oxalis weed represents the commencement of spring! From the looks of my basin (picture at right), the nasturtium must have inspired some my current palettes!
The last few weeks, with some deadlines behind us and other deadlines afoot, I’ve been spending more time with a brush in my hand. I’ve definitely missed it, and while the majority of our surface designs seem to take place on a Mac these days, getting intimate and manual with my art helps me to think of our product development and surface designs from a different angle.
I actually started painting in the summer of 5th grade, when my mom charmed a group of senior-citizen oil painters to allow me to join them in their group studio up the street. They warmly entertained me that summer despite a good 50 year plus difference in our ages, and they mentored me and seemingly managed to inject paint into my very veins and beating heart. And for some time, I was partial to those creamy, thick, rich oils. Oil-based mediums were my proclivity, until that is, my high school art teacher Mr. Genberg (who I understand is still teaching at my alma mater, Whittier Christian High) introduced watercolors to me. I think that was when the soft, fluidity of this medium captured my heart. When I was younger, I could be quite lazy about the clean-up too, so I’m sure that aspect of the water based mediums was a huge allure. (The harsh turpentine and Phelps Naptha soap that hearkens back to my oil painting days, may actually be something I can blame for my worn-looking hands! I can actually almost smell it even now.)
These days I’ve been playing with goache a bit more. I love the lush, velvety colors they furnish and opacity control it affords, while still having the fluid-ease of its sister, the translucent watercolor. Mixing up the mediums, brush thicknesses, and paper and surface types is half the fun, and keeps me imaginative and fresh.
So please go pick some wildflowers… try some new mediums and let those wildflowers inspire a new hue (like bright nasturtium orange or vivid oxalis yellow, or sea lavender purple) …find a nook to make your mess and celebrate spring! It’s probably bursting in vivid color somewhere right out your door!