Exploring with paint

Closeup of final image Inspired by a good friend from my college days, I signed up for a weekly evening painting class with a professional painter at the community center. The class was designed for “beginners through experts”, using acrylic paints. The instructor said that, when he first started teaching, he led the class together to paint the same specific design. Over time, he found that inviting each person to work on whatever was inspiring to them was much more supportive of bringing out the inner artist.

Many of the women in class (yes, it was all women) brought in lovely landscapes… gentle wooded paths, crashing waves, trees silhouetted in the dramatic light of sunset. Others brought close-up images, such as a galloping horse and vibrant “birds of paradise” flowers. I brought in an image that I like, representing the Goddess of the Sacred Path.

Since the face is the best part of this image, I need to mention that my art teacher did the majority of that work in this painting. I wasn’t sure how one creates shadows, and so he showed me by doing most of the work. Next time, I plan to do more of the painting, but for now, I love the “community” aspect of it.

It occurred to me part way through that it would have been fun to take “in progress” photos for this new endeavor. I didn’t think to take a picture of the first stage, when the basic strokes for the face, path, and light were made. Or, the second step, when the details of the face emerged. But, the later stages have snapshots, and I think the pictures show how wonderful acrylic paints are to work with, as the process is simply one of layering color on color, until you’re happy with the result.

Step 3

Step 3Since the next month’s open painting class was full, I ended up finishing this painting without feedback from my art instructor. In the third step, the flames brightened, and the light path extended to the from the moon to the face.

As I paint, I often come to the place where I’m not sure what should happen next. After this step, I liked the golden light, but wasn’t so sure about the flames. So, I clean up my supplies and left the picture on the kitchen table for a few days, musing as I passed it. Looking at the stage 3 painting, I enjoyed the shapes of the flames, but not the dark, intense color… I felt like lighter extensions would make more sense. As well, I liked where the background colors were going, but they needed some changes. Also, I figured that the painting needed more dynamic strokes representative of Enlightenment reaching out to the goddess, and of her energy extending to Light. I was also thinking the path should have more green (symbolic of the heart chakra – path of the Heart).

Step 4

Step 4Boy does lighting make a difference! At least in this painting, where I was also playing with adding silver and gold metallic paints. This is the painting after a few tweaks, but also on an overcast day.

Anyway, the head flames have been softened with gold and yellow, the purple’s been filled out, and the path has a little more green. I like the lighter flames, and may use that sort of coloring on a different painting.  But, with the brightness of the goddess and path, I think they’ll bring better balance if they are more vibrant. The moon also needs a lot more contrast around it, and I think it’ll be lovely to have beams reaching between goddess and moon. I’ll bet artists are able to see the whole picture and paint more efficiently, but for now, I need to add some colors, let it dry, and check again…

Step 5

Nearly completeIn Step 5, I’m liking where the colors are going… though I admittedly have a techni-colored eye on this one!  I just might make the next one much more of the soft golden light that I enjoyed before adding all this color.  Meanwhile, I still need to tweak the glows a little more before adding the last highlights of light. Also, now that the flames and moon have so many contrasting strokes, I’m going to need to add more glow to the path.

Step 6

Possibly the final imageFor now, I’ll call this image complete, and wrap it in a thrift store frame. It may well get some touch ups once there is space for me in the painting class again. For now, I’ll starting looking for the next inspiration!

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