Monday, March 1, 2010

Whales? What Whales?

Hopefully, as a child, we were encouraged to color purple elephants, multicolored pigs, or blue trees, or just scribble and paint without assigning an identity to our endeavors. One of my granddaughters colors and draws on the cardboard toilet tissue rolls, napkins, or anything else she encounters that will accept crayon, markers, etc. Of course I'm thrilled by this and look forward to seeing the results of her creativity when I visit. Of course she also drew on the walls and had to learn that her Mom frowned on decorating that particular surface. But as I told my daughter, I understand drawing on the walls. Just look at that big, blank "canvas" just waiting to be filled!

Those of us who are lucky enough to have had a childhood in which we were encouraged to express our creativity have hopefully been able to hold on to the childlike ability to "just do it" and play with our fabric, paints, threads and whatever else we have stashed away in our studios.

With no one looking over our shoulder, we don't have to be concerned about whether our tree looks like a real tree, whether our sky is the correct blue, or whether somone else can identify our subject-unless that's what we're going for. Not knowing what you're going to end up with is the fun part of creativity. It's an adventure!

One thing that makes painting so much fun for me is painting wet on wet and not knowing exactly what I'll end up with when everything dries. I might have a general idea about where some of the paint will be on the surface, but I never know exactly how it will look.

The picture above is three unseparated sheets of heavy paper toweling that I painted white, added blacks and grays and then combed the paint around with a spackling tool. I hung the wet piece on a clothes rack and let gravity do the work.

My granddaughter spent an afternoon painting with me at the studio. She studied the dry paper toweling, but never asked what it was. She painted a sheet of paper with her watercolors. When she was done, she asked me to keep the paper she was working on so she could finish it the next time she came to paint. "I'm making a whale," she said. Ah!