A year ago today I started painting again. I’ve always been an artist but hadn’t focused on drawing or painting anything in a long time. Before last October, I had drawn a few roses and began to paint them over a few years but something always got in the way – I had “no time”.
So, what happened last year? We had been in our new house just a few months so I was searching online for artwork to hang on our bare walls. Then, after endless hours of trying to find just the right decor, I realized, why don’t I just paint my own? Conveniently, I knew right where my art supplies were in the garage since we hadn’t finished unpacking. My supplies had been in tubs for years. I consolidated my supplies into one large tab. Then I got to work painting a goldfinch and a cherry tree.
I found a photo of a cherry blossom and a picture of the bird from a bird book and went to work, using acrylics. For some reason watercolors seemed too difficult or complicated so I stuck to acrylics. I ordered some canvases online and a few tubes of paint. Even my daughter, got into painting, creating a flamingo, a chick and a toucan! I finished my painting but didn’t feel it was good enough to hang up. Then I found a few more ideas on Pinterest – one of a girl and her cat on a swing in the moonlight. I finished that and prepped a few backgrounds. Acrylics were fun but they didn’t flow like I wanted and also didn’t allow me much detail.
So, somewhere along the line in November, I switched to watercolors. I had some paper and all my tubes of paint. I made palettes of paper plates for each new painting. I found precut watercolor paper online. I even found a whole set of paint I had never opened. So I got to work creating some Christmas gifts.
My sister-in-law loves decor featuring royalty and the Queen of England so I painted her a picture of a cup of coffee with the British flag as the background. I painted a bee for my mother-in-law for Susy B’s Quilting, and a scene of Mt. Jefferson for my mom. My daughter liked having me draw an animal for her to fill in with paint. She loves the salt effect on wet paint. So she painted a few to give away for Christmas gifts as well – a hummingbird for her aunt and a chameleon for her grandpa. We found some frames at Hobby Lobby and felt so proud and so cheerful giving away our creations.
Now I have sold one painting at the local gallery’s community show in Albany and donated two paintings for charity auctions. I’ve finished over 50 paintings and have many in various stages of completion.
I tend to like birds and landscapes. I like to paint from real photos. Once in awhile I’ll come up with a creation from my mind but I feel that I do my best work when working from a photograph.
I started an Instagram profile (@art_by_aurae) in order to showcase my work and follow fellow artists. I’ve joined in many weekly challenges of landscapes, which push me to complete a painting in less than a week.
How do I do it? How do I find time when there is none? I make time. I dedicate an hour 2-3 weeknights a week plus an hour or two on the weekends. I paint at the dining room table. My unfinished paintings are displayed in the dining room; they are visible for me to see and reflect on. I paint with my daughter. I paint alone after she goes to bed and before watching TV with my husband before bed. I don’t force myself to paint but try to encourage creating that space each evening. If I’m not feeling creative then I don’t paint. If I’ve had a tough day, I do paint because it helps me relax and refocus on being creative. I look through Instagram for inspiration.
I think that’s how I got hooked on watercolor in the first place. I saw one artist on Pinterest who posted a photo of the four stages of her painting. I tried to replicate it – a circle, half moon holding a mountain and a barn in the snow. She helped me realize that a painting can be completed in several manageable steps. I’ve also watched videos on how to paint certain settings. I enjoy Anna Mason’s painting videos and have learned about lights and dark tones and then working on the medium tones. Sometimes painting don’t turn out or I lose interest or no matter what I do, they don’t feel finished. My favorite ones are the ones I can finish in one or two settings! I struggle with black and getting tones deep enough. I’ve tried to mix grays and blacks.
I’ve pieced my artist methods together and feel successful. I feel like it is something I can maintain. My favorite things are my butcher’s tray that is my palette, ordering pre-cut paper online and realizing just how far a tube of paint can least. My husband bought me a nice scanner for my birthday so now when I finish a painting, I excitedly wait for it to dry and then scan it, saving my masterpiece for future use. I have two portfolios filled with finished paintings. I hope to share the beauty I’ve created by giving some away as gifts, making photo cards and prints and someday working on commissions. I would like to try commissions as long as the stress or pressure doesn’t ruin the creative spirit for me. It would be great for friends, family and even strangers to find a photo that they treasure and see what I could do with it using watercolors.
I’ve created a gallery of the majority of my finished paintings on this website so that I can start sharing my creations.
I encourage you to make the time even when there is none. Start planning and chipping away at the excuses. Just start and see where it leads you.