Monday, November 1, 2010

honest gesture

watercolor, charcoal, and wallpaper in zecchi watercolor journal

last week was one of exploration and change... way before my new books ('life, paint and passion' and 'creative illustration workshop') arrived on friday, i'd swerved in a different direction. it might have been that venetian horse a couple of posts back - standing there so all alone! i wanted to paint pieces that contained multiple images, that were more complex...

i had no idea if it would work with watercolors - would the first images that i laid down be washed away when i painted something on top of them? i found that i could add several washes and still see the first image. you can see this in the horse's head and body here... and i found out that i could lay down opaque color by not using much water and cover up stuff if i wanted to.

this is what my art table looked like yesterday - i've got just about every watercolor i own out! the set on the right is a yarka set - it has a gorgeous quinacridone violet!

so these are my experiments...

i let each layer dry and painted some more...

watercolor and collage on canson watercolor paper, 5" x 9"

when i first looked through 'life, paint and passion' i thought, "oh, i already do all of this stuff." but upon closer inspection (of both myself and the book) i realized that i don't. for one thing, how many times has it come to me to paint something, but i don't because i feel like i don't know how to paint it? pretty often. and how many times do images come to me but i leave them out because they look too scary/weird/childish? sometimes... yes, i already paint what comes to me, in the colors that pop into my head as i go, but it's what i'm leaving out that has the potential to change everything.

the piece above is the first piece i painted on saturday after a big dose of both books.

watercolor and chalk on st. armand watercolor paper, 3" x 5"

and this is the piece i finished last night. you can see it in the pic above of my art table. there's an owl sitting on a limb, which, believe me, i would not paint if i were painting from some preconceived image that i had in my head. my sense at that point was that the only thing that mattered was the magenta leaf at the end of the branch the owl was sitting on. so i painted a big magenta leaf (that quinacridone violet), and then i felt that a white charcoal bird (or part of one) needed to be on there somewhere. so i drew it...

one thing that you quickly realize when you look at katherine dunn's work ('creative illustration workshop'), is that she creates a lot of the dreaminess in her pieces with soft pastels. you start to think about using charcoal, graphite, and pastels a lot more...

i wholeheartedly recommend both books, even though i still haven't finished reading 'life, paint and passion'. there are no techniques in 'life, paint passion' because there are no techniques when it comes to painting what's inside of you. for me it's been helpful because it's shown me my blind spots. katherine's book is *chock full* of her gorgeous art, and she does a good job of explaining (and showing) her process.

'look both ways' ~ donna zagotta

all of this has got me thinking about gouache more than ever. after i read that maira kalman uses it in her work a couple of weeks ago, a light bulb went off. i've been reading and thinking about it ever since. the piece above is done by donna zagotta with gouache - click on her name to read about her process.

and yeah, i know i could use acrylics to get opaque color, but that doesn't fit with my quest to paint 'greener'.

onward... : )

* * *

"To create is to recognize that real beauty is found only in the honest gesture, wherever it leads, and that no harmony can be found outside it."

~Michele Cassou, 'Life, Paint and Passion'


  1. Love your experimenting, Lynne. The colors you achieve with those paints are so gorgeous ! The fushia makes my eyes sing... I think I am loving that little bird best, with the face ghosting through it...
    I love that as artists we are always learning and evolving and trying new things. You are an inspiration with your openess and your quest for more more more...
    Big hugs !

  2. WOW! that was good! Thinking you just took a 2x4 to that blind spot and cracked it wide open.
    cyber hugs!

  3. i love this post.. yes i too have gouache on the brain. those zecchi watercolors are nice and dense. i love the owl and of couse all the paintings. i will have to check out those books.

  4. I love this explosion of colour you've got going on here, such joy, I hope you got it going on within as well. As much as I love your little text people I am also going to love seeing where this new explosion of colour takes you and how it inspires us all. Love it, and really love seeing your work space/process too.
    PS love to hear more on your impressions of the books.

  5. Loving this track. Very joyous. VERY joyous.

  6. Oh no....don't make me go and buy a bunch of delicious water color paints! Lynne- these are all magnificent! So vibrant and rich..I love them all!

  7. This is good! I like what you are creating - what is coming from your thoughts. And you are so right - its about the stuff you (me, one)leave(s) out. I so often leave out the main thing that my mind was on, but I 'KNEW" it would be too much, too weird, too something not so nice, so I leave it out. I've been thinking about that a lot lately.

  8. Well I posted something earlier but I must've done something wrong! So here goes again!

    Thank you for more inspiration! I love your links and the artwork is fabulous you make me want to get going! You keep me inspired and I thank you for that so thank you for sharing the links and your art!

  9. Hi Lynne,
    it will ge a good day when it starts with a post of you. :-) It's so nice to see your art table - I love it - colours, colours, colours! And I especially love the new guy with the ship in his head and the flower ears. That's real great. So much to discover - so much stories I can weave. And thank you for the book advices - some of them are also available here - maybe I will by one or two ...

    Have a nice day :-)


  10. What a bold, colorful heart you have!
    Thank you for sharing it.

  11. Your experiments are great, thank you for sharing. I come to your blog to read your wonderful quotes and find inspiration.

  12. You are a brave traveler! Always heading off in unknown directions. And how true this is that we avoid what we think we don't know how to do. I am guilty of this one and it reminds what a foolish beings we humans can be. There are a gazillion things we don't know how to do and how else will we learn but by giving them a go. Thanks for offering this bite of freedom.

    Some wonderful images in your exploration.

  13. This year I've watched your art blossoming in new directions and it has been so exciting.Now you are off again.... still blossoming in new directions! We're so lucky to have blogs! It is really inspiring to watch what you are doing. I'm amazed at the painting with the bird... a face .... a flower... a galaxy, and then the next painting with the boat sailing across her head. Wonderfully whimsical! Thanks so much Lynne for generously sharing your experiments, your thoughts and your delightful art. I am learning so much from your process.

  14. ok ... am really stewing on this post... your work is wonderful and I love where you are going, but I do the same thing... I don't draw, paint a lot of the stuff that comes to me for the same reasons, weird, scary. childish... hhhmmm.... chewing... xo

  15. Oh Lynne, your colors are gorious and joyful! I have looked at this post again and again, and now I've had time to soak it in absorb it all. I love your honest gestures... and your art table... and the way it is also so lively!!! roxanne

  16. Ah, a very good thinking post. Not to mention the gorgeous colors. Love the books, love watercolor, love the colors, did I say that?
    Keep wondering what the small boys think? :)Bea

  17. Hello Lovely Lynne! Stooping by, once more in search of inspiration to kick-start me back into creativity. Beautiful images as ever: from the heart. thank you x

  18. Absolutely loving your paintings and your reflections on them ... as usual :) It's been a while my friend, I'm coming up for air after a deep dive underneath it all. Lovely to see and feel your amazingly alive pieces dazzling my eyeballs and soul :)

  19. Wow--these are taking you in some new directions. It's fun to see what the books inspire, and it looks like you've been having lots of fun playing with them. I love the bird with the subtle face in it.

  20. okay, Lynne, I've been doing some blurfing the past half hour or so, and now that I've seen this post, I'm stopping and going right to my table. That little owl piece actually make me teary-eyed. I don't know why! And you are so right; sometimes I'll see something and I'll think, yes, I've done that. But I haven't really EXPLORED it. I haven't LIVED in it. and some processes must be lived in for awhile.

    Yarka? Are you kidding?! That looks like royal jewels of watercolor. I'm checking it out.

  21. Hi Lynn, I LOVE all caps what you've been working on. Really, and that you're exploring. Good luck with gouache, I never felt a fit with them even though I admired many who made them work. Maybe another time/ I'd love for you to ad some things to the Creative Illustration Workshop group i created on Flickr. Don't be shy. [And thank you for bying my book]

  22. hello Lynne,

    Seems I have had this post open for two days. I have looked at your art when I am talking on the phone and read bits and pieces here and there. Each piece of art captures my attention and wins my heart. Really wonderful. I love also that you share your thoughts and processes. Thank you.