By Design

Sophie's CardinalSome things happen by design. Other things happen with the most sublime serendipity…even if there was a certain lightly sketched design for the day. An art day hosted by my friend Susan at her home last Saturday. Ten to four. Bring what ever you want to work on. Spend the day making art. Come when you can, stay as long as you’d like. Whoever shows up is who’s supposed to show up. Usually a group of well-seasoned women. But this time Susan’s granddaughters, Maddy, 5, and Sophie, 9 were fellow artists around the long oval dining room table draped with clear plastic.

It’s not usual for grandmothers to brag on other grandmother’s grands, but I tell ya, I gotta brag on Susan’s grand girls who are both surprisingly accomplished artists for their age. It is rare to watch a five year old work patiently for forty-five minutes, or longer, on a watercolor pencil composition of thoughtful design and detail – birds, trees, clouds, sun and sky. Sister Sophie had begun a 12 x 18 watercolor of a red cardinal before I arrived. With Grandma’s help she researched online the head and neck of a cardinal and the color of its eggs. She had already mastered a painting technique for creating birch trees. And then created atmospheric depth by incorporating clouds and sky behind the bird and branches. Sophie painted for hours as art making friends arrived and departed. I hope you’re as impressed with her painting as we were!

Another favorite friend came for art day. Just returning from vacation she inquired what she needed to bring. Just yourself was the essence of what I texted back. You see, Marilyn is my sou artist. She’s my go to person to try new art projects on. She’s the person who helps me work the kinks out of an art process. A while back I’d bought a cheapo calendar with huge butterfly pictures. My intent was to create some combed¬†painted art papers for future projects at the Lighthouse. So I need someone to experiment with me. I usually know what something’s going to look like in my head, but other people – not so much. That’s why Marilyn is such an important art colleague. She helps me refine my instructions and teaching process by her questions and hesitations. It is so much easier to do that with one person rather than a dozen or so folks who say, “What am I supposed to be doing?”

Marilyn began by choosing one of the butterfly pictures. Next she randomly painted over the image with lots of juicy paint of different colors. With a rubber texturing tool she combed a design through the wet paint that suited her, then dried the combed painted paper with a hair dryer. Voila! Elegant art paper with great collage potential. Click on each image for greater detail. 

Fall TreesLooking at the paper she created she wished she’d used warm autumn colors because she’d seen in idea in Pinterest she wanted to try. Not a problem. Just paint and comb another butterfly picture with the preferred colors. I went about working on my art piece and the next thing I knew there was another gorgeous piece of combed painted paper ready to become fall trees. There was lots of collaboration and sharing of different sized paper punches to achieve the fallen leaves plus stenciled trucks and branches. The background is a soft lavender (nobody would have suggested that color except our gifted artist buddy Lee) over pale yellows and soft greens. It’s a pretty sublime design that’s taught me to enlarge my vision about using combed painted paper.

My Heart God's HomeMy Heart God’s Home is what I created during our art day. The hearts are cut from leftover painted paper plates used as paint palettes plus quilt magazine collage papers.

If you were going to design an art day with friends, who would gather around the table? What creative project(s) would you bring to work on? Who are those in your life that you collaborate with? What wisdom do they add to the design of your life and creativity?

3 comments to By Design

  • my problem is my isolation
    never have found a group in which i feel comfortable
    have pretty well decided to go it alone
    have no idea why this should be so but it is

    of late feel that i have lost confidence in myself
    and in my creative abilities
    and yet can turn out good work at will
    recently bought a $5 sunhat a horrible squashed thing
    and made two fashion hats out of it
    can supply pictures if anyone is interested

    question: how do you feel about designing to order on a certain day
    at a certain time with specific people? i do not do well at all

  • cynthia h.

    Lynne.. This is such fun to read on a rainy day.. and gives me inspiration for
    some holiday projects.. Of which there always seem to be many.. Let’s get together some
    time and share a bit of this and that.. Remind me in my gym bag at the pool I have a magazine for you.. Happy Day.. Cynthia xx

  • sharron luft

    I’ve spent many happy days with you Lynne, and some of your/our art friends, with each of us chasing our art muse around the table, through the paints and over the photos. Those days are delightful, fun-filled memories that still have the power to inspire, to spark my creative urge. I’m ready for another so-designed day, any time, any place. Any other takers out there?

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