Hope Is The Little Voice That Whispers ‘Maybe’

It’s a new episode of Art Play Relay! March marks the start of a new cycle in this project, meaning Juna and I have each picked a new quote and started a new painting!

The Videos

My video: Juna’s video: You can read Juna’s blogpost about her process here. If you’d like to be involved, you still can! Join the Facebook group here to connect with the other lovely people, find a buddy and post your work. The quote for this artwork is:

Hope is the little voice you hear whisper “maybe” when it seems the entire world is shouting “no”

Thank you Melfina for providing us with that quote!

Supply List

  • Watercolour paper 300gsm hot pressed
  • Scrap paper
  • Knife, ruler & cutting mat
  • Gel medium
  • Sponge brushes
  • Acrylic paint
  • Palette knife
  • Ink
  • Old toothbrush
  • Floral stamp
  • Stamp pad (black)
  • Paint pens (black & white

Thought Process

I think the hardest thing with this artwork was completely letting go of the projects from the last two months. I really didn’t want to recreate something similar, I wanted it to be a fresh start.

When I saw the quote it instantly resonated with me so much. I have a lot of doubt inside me and inner voices that tell me ‘no’. I guess it’s an internalised version of that ‘society’ (or sometimes parental) voice of needing to live your life a certain way, that the way that feels true and authentic is not the realistic way or what other people want for you. My current journey with my art and more generally in my life is so much one of trying to find my own voice. Pushing against the ‘no’ and finding my own ‘maybe’ (and eventually my own ‘yes’)!

How to translate an abstract quote into a painting is a different matter though! Holding a quote inside your head when doing a painting though makes it shine through. The ‘maybe’ to me is a sense of possibility, of seeing where things go and of letting things grow. That is represented in the process of this painting in which I completely let go. I had no pre-formed plan or composition in mind, my biggest goal was to let it be mine and let it develop. I think it is also where the wish to use the floral stamp came from. It felt like something growing, a promise. Nicely in keeping with the new season of spring!

I also wanted to add something interesting that Juna could work with, but in a completely free way (that’s why I didn’t add a face this time, it felt too much like it would push in a certain direction), which is where the idea of the flap came from. It also feeds into that idea of ‘maybe’ and the scariness that is imbued in following your own heart. Sometimes that’s so personal that you might want to hide it away or not show it to everyone yet.

I love the interesting and richly textured background that came out. The lower part of the painting feels a bit more finished to me, whereas the top part feels really raw. I really can’t wait to see what Juna will do with this! I’m so curious to see what parts she will keep, what parts she will go over and what completed artwork will emerge in the end.

2015-03-24-Hope-Maybe

2015-03-24-Hope-Maybe-det03

2015-03-24-Hope-Maybe-det01

2015-03-24-Hope-Maybe-det02

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!)

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?

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).

Hetty & Dimitri’s Wedding

When I was in my second year of uni I shared a flat (in Lewisham *shudders*) with Hetty. In the same year she met Dimitri and on 31 July 2010 (Saturday just gone) she got married to him! I went over to Gibraltar where the wedding was being held (they live there) and spent a lovely couple of days with Hetty, her family & friends. It was really amazing and the wedding was perfect! (I know everyone says that, but I work in the wedding industry so I like to pretend a statement like that from me carries more weight =p)

They didn’t have a gift list and said they didn’t want any presents because people being able to come to Gibraltar was present enough. Obviously I couldn’t show up empty handed, but I’m not a big fan of giving toasters (besides, a nice toaster is bloody expensive!) or generic presents just for the sake of giving something. So I decided to create a painting. I think it was back in February last year that Hetty asked if I would do a painting for her, after seeing the painting I made for my aunt.

I set up my art desk and identified my art supplies (all still in boxes from our move in April) which were conveniently located in the box that was tucked furthest away and underneath 3 boxes filled with books.. And I set to work. I started on the Sunday before the wedding and finished it on Thursday evening (because I flew out on the Friday), which is very fast for me. However, I think it’s actually good for me to be under a bit of time pressure, because it makes me get on with things and forces me not to think too much. Thinking too much can have a devastating effect on ‘getting things done’ for me, because self doubt creeps in quickly and makes it impossible to create freely.

The first picture below is the finished painting. Stupidly enough I only took that one picture of it when finished rather than close-ups of the details as I usually do. Ah well. The other pictures are of the progress in chronological order. You can click each picture for a bigger version.

Hetty & Dimitri Finished Painting
Finished painting


Sketch on wood


Skin tones painted


Hair painted


Clothes painted


Cats painted


Initial background layers added

Work in Progress

The plan is to put these 35mm slides (that I painted and put little hearts and flowers on) in a row at the top and bottom of the painting.

Any suggestions on making the background more interesting/textured are welcome!