I've had four days off from work, two of which I spent with Mum, and the other two were meant to be an art retreat arranged for myself by myself. Well... On Monday I seemed to have alls sorts of things going on except for arty things. In the afternoon, when I finally got my art supplies out, I was struck by the most awful creative block. I just couldn't bring myself to do anything. Performance anxiety rampant. At last I pulled out my cheapest sketchbook (the one with the awful paper) and drew an unplanned and ugly portrait of myself spewing fire. I coloured it with coloured pencils and didn't care whether I stayed within the lines or not.
The ugly self-portrait did the trick. I remembered what I always tend to forget: it's better to draw SOMETHING or ANYTHING than nothing at all. It doesn't matter if it's ugly. It's a start, a warm-up. The good stuff comes later. I put on Paula Phillips' workshop 'Textured & Layered Backgrounds' and started messing around with gesso, Inktense pencils and acrylic paint. At the moment my hands have what has been called a "mixed-media manicure". My nails are both purple and silver. My arm is tired from rubbing off layers of acrylic paint. My pants are in the wash, as I managed to splatter white paint on them. You can probably tell I had a good time.
Here are two of the backgrounds I started on yesterday. There are more layers to come. The technique is basically to add layer after layer of paint, and each time you add a new layer, you remove some of it to reveal the underlying layers. It's very exciting, and a good workout too, as you really have to put some back into it, as Paula says.