Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Learning to paint

For most of my life I have had pictures in my head; I’d look at a tree and see a drawing or a painting. Sometimes when I closed my eyes, I’d see pulsing colors much like the “skins” on MP3 songs. I could create these amazing pictures only in my head; trying to make them visible to others was much too scary. What if they thought I was crazy? What if I was/am crazy?

A friend asked me a few weeks ago why I don’t listen to music. I replied, “But, I do. I hear the songs in my head; I don’t really need to hear them with my ears.” My pictures were similar. I see them in my brain; I don’t need to see them with my eyes.

Now I want to see them with my eyes. I want to share my visions with others, and I don’t have the skills to do that. However, today I took a major step towards putting my pictures on paper or canvas. I painted my first two acrylic pictures. In the first one, I experimented with the various brushed I had bought and varying amounts of water and pigment. What fun!!

Susie, my artist friend, was sitting beside me quietly painting an aquamarine and purple cat with sienna highlights. I was watching her. As she was putting whiskers on her cat, I decided that I wanted to paint the same thing. Well, sort of the same thing. At least I wanted to begin with the same picture of her cat. So I took the picture to the computer and enlarged it, sketched in outline in pencil.

Then I was afraid! What to do next? Finally, I began working with blacks and greys to get the shadows and highlights done. I pondered over the fur, the fluff around the head, the wisps on the ears. The body was awful. I had painted long black and grey strokes that resembled a barrel more than a cat body.

I did the eyes and they looked evil; so I tried to figure out what made them appear that way. I remembered some psychological tests where faces had eyes turned different ways and mouths down or up and mustaches in different forms. I added some white to the eyes (they’re lime green) and made them slightly larger. No more evil eye.

Susie and I took a break and scanned her painting into the computer and played with changing the colors. I liked the teal cat with magenta eyes and the apple green cat. We did an outline like a neon sign in the night. Such manipulation is fun!

When I returned to my painting, I lopped off the barrel body, put some bold touches on the face, giving it some form, and toned down the tiny strokes that I’d hoped would look like fur. It was a decent painting for my first session. Yahoo!

I am an artist now. Perhaps someday when my skills have improved, I may come closer to bringing those pictures in my head out for my eyes to see. It’ll be a fun journey anyway.

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