watercolor bubbles

behind the scenes: painting day

I’ve been whining that I still need to post some art on here, so there’s no time like the present! Let’s do this!

I don’t like to brag, but thanks to a super flexible, nearly-full-time working schedule and two young-but-incredibly-independent children, I’m able to devote the following times per week to painting:

  • Once a week from 7:45 – 8:00am (if I paint with one hand and brush my teeth with the other)
  • Once a week from 9:00-10:00pm (if the kids have stopped issuing requests for more milk and water upstairs, and if I don’t collapse on the couch from exhaustion and turn on Netflix instead)
  • One Saturday a month from approximately 2:00-6:00pm (if the kids are invited to a birthday party and my husband sacrifices himself to go it alone).

Other painting bloggers refer to their working space as their “studio”. Studio is defined as a 9,000 foot parqueted warehouse painted all in white, with the only splashes of color being the romantically messy watercolor palette and the blogger’s blue jeans, oversized scarf and brown boots. Well, my “studio” is half of a crappy desk, and on a good day I don’t have to spend an hour clearing my kids’ clutter from it in order to see the surface.

I’ve also been known to paint in my compact car for 20 minutes on my lunch break (forget the cool oversized scarf, I go all out and just wear my bulky winter coat!):

Which brings me to Step 1 of painting day:

  1. Clear working space of foreign debris. Normally I would take the time to return each object to its proper home, but today we’ve got a blog post to do. Therefore, I have relocated everything to the surface directly adjacent to the painting area. (In other words: I’ve moved the piles.)  
  2. Get out canvas, cup of water, and two paintbrushes. Paint standing up. Here we can see that I’m using a 12-year-old paintbrush that I bought after my watercolor class in 2006, and one of those trendy watercolor brushes (more on that later).
  3. So the subject of this piece is…bubbles. I know, I know. Bubbles do not seem like a very typical subject for grief art. And…you’re right! I’m painting this for a new baby. (Due to my limited painting times, if I want to include artwork, I’m going to have to blog about whatever I happen to be painting…and no, I don’t plan on selling bubble pictures in my online shop.)

A little side note on my painting experience.

I took a watercolor class in 2006. The teacher was Russian, which meant I learned well, and quickly, as her primary teaching technique was fear (and fear is indeed very effective). Perhaps this is why my posture, breathing, heart rate and cortisol levels while painting are identical to those of someone in the middle of a panic attack. Either that, or I’m just a super-anal perfectionist (those who know me know the answer to this).

So one of the things beat into my psyche during this course was: Water Kills Pigment (*whip crack*). As a beginner, you tend to drench your brush in water, get a nice, sloppy soup of paint and water mix going, and then are shocked and confused when you bring your brush to the paper and your pigment becomes super light and unpredictable and the hydrangea you were going to paint suddenly looks like a tie-dye t-shirt. So the next time, you decide to forgo the water completely and just put some paint on a dry brush on dry paper, whereupon you realize that this, too, looks like crap. So you stop watercolor painting and watch YouTube instead (or, in 2006, you watch…hmmm…what were we watching? Episodes of 24 on DVD?).

But I digress. What I’m trying to say is that watercolor painting is all about finding the right balance of water and paint. And containing the water and paint. And positive and negative space.

I could go on, but I’ll spare you.

Anyway, Facebook convinced me that these watercolor brushes were going to be AMAZING, but I am not sold. When I squeeze the barrel, I can’t really dose how much water comes out, and as I said before, you need to keep your water under control. So I’m not using the squeezy barrel part anymore, just the brush part (which means that any brush would do the same thing).

What you CAN do with the water is use it like an eraser, since Water Kills Pigment *whip crack*. Which is perfect for bubbles. Basically you can paint the bubble a solid color, then add more pigment to the bottom side and “lift” paint on the top side so it looks like a sphere.

You can also make them all different colors, or integrate several colors into one single bubble (which is how they are in real life). The important thing is to make the locations and the sizes look as random as possible, and to overlap a few. And if you fail, like I did, at getting them nice and round, you pop another bubble on top:

I love to make baby pictures in 3D. So now that I’ve got the background finished (this was completed about a week later, as my painting time on Day 1 was up), I use 3D pad stickers underneath some oversized bubbles to create a 3D effect, then put this into a 3D frame and put MORE bubbles around the matte (names blurred because the internet is scary) for a 3-layer 3D picture:

So there you have it. Not exactly a sneak peek at the online shop, but at least some proof that I DO pick up a paintbrush every once and a while!*

*By the way, I normally stretch my paper and tape it down to the board properly, but this picture began as a doodle on the edge of the paper, and I just kind of ran with it. My teacher back in 2006 would have thrown me out of class for this.

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