I Can’t Draw

i-cant-draw

If I had a penny for every time I heard someone say “I can’t draw” or “I can’t even draw a stick figure”…. I’d have a fair amount of pennies.

I can’t draw either. Or couldn’t. I don’t know. At some point I couldn’t draw. And now I’m at a different stage of ‘can’t draw’. And in a few years’ time I will be further progressed on my journey of ‘can’t draw’. I don’t suppose I will ever get to a point where I exclaim: By golly! I can draw!

I think it’s like that with any skill that has a lot of levels of proficiency. You’re always learning, but you’re never ‘there’, because as soon as you’re ‘there’, there’s another level to achieve. Deep, no?

So. ‘Not being able to draw’ is no excuse not to draw. By all means, don’t draw if you don’t want to or don’t like to. But don’t lament ‘oooooh I can’t draw…….’ as if other people who do draw are somehow born with some magical talent that makes them able to draw. Or as if you’re only allowed to draw if you’re somehow already good at it before having even practiced.

We all can’t draw. We all can draw. I don’t know. Go draw! Draw me a stick figure and go share it with me on Facebook or Instagram =p

PS here are some pictures of me practicing my drawing skills and a bonus picture of a flamingo I drew over 10 years ago. You’re welcome.

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2005-05-27flamingo

My First Commission & A Photo Walkthrough

A few weeks ago I got the nicest surprise, my cousin Victoria asked me if she could commission a painting from me! I was a bit nervous but also really excited and once I’d spoken to her about the subject matter and colour preferences I got straight to work. I documented the process with my iPhone as I was working, because I thought you might like to see how I create a painting from start to finish!

Victoria is a harpist and owns several herself. I loved working on this piece because I have such a connection with music too. She asked for pink and turquoise which was totally up my street as those are my favourite colours!

Play Your Joy WIP | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

01. Music stamp for the background using waterproof black ink (Ranger Archival)

Play Your Joy WIP | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

02. Gluing down a layer of book pages from a music encyclopedia with Mod Podge

Play Your Joy WIP | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

03. Starting to add some colour with Neocolor II crayons

Play Your Joy WIP | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

04. Adding more intense colour with Neocolor II crayons

Play Your Joy WIP | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

05. Drawing & painting the figure and harp (I think I got so into it at this point that I forgot to take pics of the sketch!)

Play Your Joy WIP | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

06. Working on little details in the eyes, face, dress & harp

Play Your Joy WIP | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

07. Adding little music notes by pushing modelling paste through a stencil

Play Your Joy WIP | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

08. Finishing up by creating more grungy effects, embossing the harp strings and adding stamped text

Play Your Joy | mixed media on 8x8" canvas board | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

09. All finished!

If you are interested in commissioning a painting, please contact me to discuss it!

WIPs And An Interview

I’ve been doing a lot of behind the scenes work the past week. Tweaking my website, social networks and most excitingly: working on an awesome PDF project which I will be releasing within the next month or so. I’m super excited to share it with you, but I want it to be the best I can make it, so I’m not rushing it. I have this tendency to always want to do things quickly and yesterday NOW, so this is a bit of a learning experience, but it’s good.

In some exciting news, Kim from Craft Create Connect interviewed me on her blog! Feeling super excited (OK maybe I need a synonym for excited to stop overusing it?!!) and also honoured. So go check it out. You can read a bit more about me, the why behind my art and what motivates me.

I showed you some canvases I was working on in my previous post. These are intuitive paintings so there is no set goal or outcome, I don’t know when they will be finished (in some way they might never be finished!) until I call them finished. Here is some more progress on these two.

Green Abstract Intuitive WIP | acrylics on canvas board | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

Pink Abstract Intuitive WIP | acrylics on canvas board | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

I’ve been struggling with this process majorly. They sat untouched for about a week, until I felt the drive to go back to them and I did something simple but amazing: put some noise cancelling headphones on and played music. MAJOR IMPACT YOU GUYS!! The music was both inspiring and also kept me away from getting too much into my head with thinking ‘what to do next’ or ‘this isn’t very good’ and other inhibiting thoughts like that. I even did some dance moves. Don’t tell anyone.

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you’ll have already seen some progress on this girl & unicorn journal spread. I’m pretty much done but just need to work on the background now and maybe some text. I went from loving the sketch, to feeling doubtful about the initial painting, to loving it again now. Curious to see where this one will end up.

Girl & Unicorn WIP | mixed media in art journal | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

What have you been working on this week? I’d love to see! Comment below (you can use the comment luv under the text box to show me your latest post) or tag me on Facebook or Instagram to show me!

Sit With The Quiet

Sit With The Quiet | Blog Post About Intuitive Painting | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

You guys, I just had a bit of an epiphany!

I’ve been diving into intuitive painting this past week. As a perfectionist control-freak this is HARD and super scary. But I’m doing it, because I feel ready and I want to push myself out of my comfort zone.

Sit With The Quiet | Blog Post About Intuitive Painting | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

I noticed whenever I did art I’d find it difficult to deal with that feeling of ‘not knowing what to do next’. This would lead to a lot of negative feelings, so I devised a way of working where I would plan my paintings in advance with a sketch and a colour palette. With the initial background stage I’m quite free & loose, but once that is done I will sketch something and from there on I pretty much follow a plan. It works quite well for me, I feel comfortable and the process is enjoyable. This is how I usually work.

BUT BUT BUT as you know, I’ve been falling in love with beautiful abstract-y intuitive paintings. I wanted to try that! Talk about an arena where you NEVER know what comes next, because there is no planned outcome at all.

Sit With The Quiet | Blog Post About Intuitive Painting | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

I’m working on 4 paintings at the same time at the moment, and I noticed I was coming up against a lot of this ‘not knowing what to do next’. And I was feeling crappy about it. And I was feeling negative. And I was feeling that maybe this intuitive painting is not for me, maybe I’m just not one for tapping into my intuition, maybe it just doesn’t really ‘flow’ for me the way it does for others.

That’s when I had my moment of clarity… It’s OK not to know what to do next. I am so afraid of the quiet, so afraid of sitting without doing something… actually so afraid of truly connecting with the current moment, especially if that current moment consists of quiet… But the quiet can be listened to, I can be with it, and it will last a little while or a long time AND THAT IS OK.

Sit With The Quiet | Blog Post About Intuitive Painting | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

It’s kind of like when you’re with someone you don’t know very well, and silence feels SO uncomfortable that you feel you need to fill every little gap, and that’s how I’d been approaching my painting. WHOA, major realisation time! Now all of a sudden it’s like I’ve given myself permission to sit with the quiet. So I sat with the quiet… and I felt a new sense of allowance, of peace and of trust.

I urge you, next time you create and you feel uncomfortable or lost, sit with the quiet. (And then come and tell me about it afterwards!)

Start To Finish – bonded by history

Start To Finish Blog Series

Start To Finish is an ongoing series in which I share the progress on a painting from start to finish and I tell you what I did in each step. Please drop me a line or a comment if you decide to follow along and don’t mind sharing, as I’d love to see! Click here to view all posts in this series.

When I was having dinner with my friend Ed the other day, he was talking about his school days and said he and his friends from that time in his life were ‘bonded by history’. I promptly got out my phone, apologised for being anti-social, and made a note of that phrase as it spoke to me so much! I knew I wanted to create a painting that incorporated that quote.

I’ve created a few paintings lately in a grungy/shabby style and have been dying to share with you all the progress on one of these paintings! A quick note: on the other paintings in this style I did the background first and then painted the figure on top. In this one I drew the girls first and created the background around it. This makes the sketching easier, but in hindsight I actually prefer the first method because everything is integrated better. Ah well, live and learn! Either technique has its pros and cons, you just have to find what works best for you.

Bonded By History - mixed media on canvas board, WIP - © 2014 Iris Fritschi-Cussens I sketched two cute girlies on my canvas board (8×8).

Bonded By History - mixed media on canvas board, WIP - © 2014 Iris Fritschi-Cussens Adding colour to the faces and hair with Caran d’Ache watersoluble crayons. The irises in the eyes are done with sparkly Stewart Gill fabric paints.

Bonded By History - mixed media on canvas board, WIP - © 2014 Iris Fritschi-Cussens I cut this shapes of the dresses out of paper and put alternate stripes of washi tape on them.

Bonded By History - mixed media on canvas board, WIP - © 2014 Iris Fritschi-Cussens Added some grunge to the dresses with walnut ink spray and brown acrylic glaze. Adding background elements by using Tim Holtz distress stains, metallic paints and more glazes of brown and off-white acrylic paint.

Bonded By History - mixed media on canvas board, WIP - © 2014 Iris Fritschi-Cussens Added some brighter geometric elements to the background with stencils.

Bonded By History - mixed media on canvas board - © 2014 Iris Fritschi-Cussens For the final steps I muted the background elements by adding more glazes and metallic paint. I added lace ribbon sprayed with walnut ink around the border and finally I stamped the words in the middle.

I hope you enjoyed seeing this little painting take shape! If you enjoyed this post and would like to see more like this, please don’t hesitate to sign up to my newsletter (it’s over there —-> in the sidebar, you may need to scroll up)

This Week In The Studio – pushing my boundaries & playing

This Week In The Studio

This Week In The Studio (TWITS, teehee!) is an ongoing series in which I share what I’ve been working on recently and give you a sneak peek into my process and works-in-progress. Click here to view all posts in this series.

Recently the theme of my work has been to push my boundaries. I am trying new things and getting out of my comfort zone. I have pushed through years of creating work I didn’t like and now that I’m finally creating paintings I like, I want to keep learning, keep growing, trying things, not be afraid to experiment!

I still very much feel like I’m finding my own voice, my own ‘style’, and in order to do that I just have to create, create & create!

Abstract-Playing

^ Playing with paint. Choosing colours and doing everything loosely and without thinking (well, trying to anyway!!).

In-The-Moment

^ This was a Life Book 2014 lesson taught by Traci Bautista. It is about being in the moment. Again playing, being free, not thinking too much and working fast. I absolutely LOVED the techniques I learned with this and it was also very satisfying to do. It’s a direction I very much want to go in but I’m meeting some resistance from my thinking mind. I’m definitely going to incorporate these techniques into more work.

Courage-WIP1

Courage-WIP2

^ Two progress shots where I’m trying to achieve a similar effect as in this painting from the other week. I’m loving the whole grungy, shabby feel of this. I’m doing lots of smearing with paint, using glazes and metallics.

My computer kind of imploded yesterday, the operating system just went completely kaput. I may have lost all my files. Having to breathe deeply and accept this and move on (or if files can be recovered, which I’ll know tomorrow, it’ll be expensive, in which case I’ll have to accept that!). I go between wanting to swear/have a tantrum and feeling like I should use this as an opportunity for growth. Definitely a big challenge whichever way I look at it! Anyway, because I couldn’t do the computery things I had planned (writing this blog post, submitting some art, adding some links to my blog) I finished the painting above.

I will try to post pictures of the finished piece later this week. I really want to explore this shabby style more and experiment with different techniques and materials. The above painting is on canvas board which is so lovely to work on. Next time I do a painting like that I will either do a tutorial video or step-by-step photos as I’d love to share these techniques with you!

What have you been working on this week?

A Happy Accident – Gelli Plate & Brayer Fun

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I finally got some time the other night to play with my new Gelli plate that I got for Christmas! I’d seen a couple of videos about them, but hadn’t used one before myself. I was just playing really, finding out how to use it, how to create texture and what colours to use. I created a few sheets that I’m pleased with and some that look a bit close to mud!!

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The thing I ended up liking most was a complete surprise and accident though, it was this:

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The sheet of paper I used to clean my brayer, palette knife & foam shapes on! I absolutely love how this ended up. It feels so free and random. I don’t think I’d ever have ended up with this if I set out to create it on purpose.

Spend some time looking at those scrap pieces of paper you use as a palette, to dab your brushes or protect your workspace. Who knows what kind of treasures you’ll find in there!

Digital Painting with a Wacom Bamboo

I recently got myself a Wacom Bamboo Pen & Touch tablet. It had nothing to do with art, but more with the tennis elbow that I’ve been suffering from since about March this year. Nothing to do with playing tennis, but more with overusing the computer/mouse and using it in the wrong way. It’s a long story really and not too interesting to go into in great detail. I’m still suffering from it, have done and am doing a lot to combat it but it’s a very persistent problem (I use the computer for work, so there’s no easy alternative). Aaanyway, one of the things I thought might help would be to use a tablet instead of a mouse. Indeed it’s a lot nicer (much more neutral & natural way of holding and moving my hand, and less cramped).

Obviously tablets are more traditionally known for allowing you to use the mouse like a pen/pencil/brush and creating art with it, so I thought I’d give it a go too. As you may know I like to do some mixed media art here and there, but haven’t done any digital painting. I did some Googling and came up with this Introduction to Painting by Jeff Priest. The premise is very simple, sketch something, then colour it using one colour and it’s highlight & shadow counterparts.

I decided to start with an apple, picked a reference picture and started a sketch (I use Photoshop CS2 in case you were wondering). I find sketching with the tablet quite difficult compared to sketching with a pencil. I find I don’t have as much control, sometimes my lines go completely all over the place. When sketching with a pencil I always find it difficult to sketch the right side of things (like the right side of a face, or indeed, the right side of an apple) and with the tablet I find that problem magnified even further. However, working with a computer does mean it’s very easy to undo or erase stray lines.

Then I started to add the colour. It took me a few minutes to get to grips with the brushes and especially fiddling with the opacity to add shadows/highlights and blend the colours. But then my brain just ‘clicked’ and it became quite a fun and therapeutic process of going over the sections and refining the painting. It was only a quick exercise (as an aside, I am terrible when it comes to practicing or doing exercises. It’s like some sort of mental block for me. I somehow have this notion that I need to be good at something without practice, otherwise it’s not worth doing or I am not worthy of doing it. Intellectually (and indeed, logically) I know that’s complete bullshit, but I can’t help but feel badly when I’m not magically good at something but *gasp* need practice), it probably took about an hour, but very satisfying to see something take shape like that. I’d say that using the tablet in conjunction with the brushes in photoshop made the colouring/shading very easy and pleasurable. However, I found it quite difficult to make nice smooth curves. Overall I found it easier than ‘real’ painting. I find it hard to know how to create realistic shading, but working digitally gives you a big margin for error because of the ease with which you can go over something again and refine it without having to wait for something to dry, or worrying you’re going to ruin your work so far.

After doing the apple, which was fun but a bit boring, I thought I’d try a portrait. A while back I did an online portrait course run by my friend Tam (she runs a lot of courses, I really recommend them!), so I applied the theory I learned then on how to create a front facing portrait. I’ve worked on it a few hours and you can see the work in progress below. I’m pleased with it so far. I’m also blown away by how comparatively easy it is because of it’s flexibility. I love little ‘cheating’ tricks like.. sketch the left side of the face, and then just copy it, flip horizontally and place it to create a whole face that is symmetrical.. mwahaha. Working digitally really helps guide you to create something halfway decent much quicker than with regular painting (I find, anyway). Of course it does lack the ‘realness’ of actual painting. One of the things I love about working with mixed media is the textures and smells of real paint, wood, paper etc and digital art doesn’t have that.

Unfortunately using the tablet for hours on end in such a concentrated way isn’t great for my elbow… so I really have to be responsible and not do it too much (or probably at all.. but doing what’s good for yourself isn’t always easy or fun).

Hope & Joy WIP



Hope & Joy WIP, originally uploaded by rrreow.

Painting this for my aunt. She has two cats called Hope & Joy. Her birthday was earlier this week so I’m a bit behind schedule but I’m hoping she’ll like it enough to see past that =p

I’m really enjoying working on this so far. Working bigger than usual, which is actually a lot easier (I know Tam, you told me that!)! Working bigger I’m not so frustrated with my brushes not doing what I want because the margin of error is much bigger and I’m finally getting to grips with mixing acrylic paints and glaze to get a nice texture that I like working with.

The right cat looks a bit messy and I wish I’d done better on that, but I really struggled with the pattern of its coat (based on what the cat looks like in real life). However I’m VERY pleased with how the one on the left turned out. Also pleased with the girl’s face and her hair. All in all having a very good feeling about this and that’s quite rare for me to feel about my art!

Sketch

I did a few sketches and this was the one I liked best. Have already sketched it on a canvas as well (although I can never reproduce the same sketch twice!! And annoyingly enough I always prefer the original sketch grrr. But I’m over it). Hadn’t done much art for a few weeks (motivation is a big issue for me) so I’m pretty excited.

Andrew and I have been working pretty hard (last holiday we had was in October 2007!!) so we’ve been talking about going away for a week or so. I’d just LOVE to rent a cottage in the Lake District or something, bring all my art supplies and just spend some days making art, maybe watch some films and talk to Andrew. Just thinking about it makes me more relaxed and fills me with a sense of calm!