Monday, February 17, 2014

I'd Rather Do It Myself Yet Still Follow The Rules!

Bisque figurine ready to paint

Have you ever gone cruising at the local craft store or let your fingers do the walking in those art catalogs that seem to grow like fleas on your tabletop? You see this cute item or that one and looking at the blank surface (not unlike the bisque figurine shown here) looked at the kit or instructions and thought, "I can do better than that!" So you buy it.

After a few weeks or months, you dig it out from some dusty corner and looking at it wonder, what on earth was I thinking of? I can go to Target and get something like this for a lot less time and effort. We all have forgotten the original impulse - to create something that was unique to us. An original, one of a kind decoration that we would be proud to call our own.

There in lies the rub. If you have never painted one of these, the hours it will take you will be amazing. I think I can paint one of my own unique birdhouses in less time. In fact I know I can and have.

A decorated Bisque Figurine
However, there is something satisfying and rewarding in taking a blank figurine and coming up with your own colors, details, ways that make it uniquely your own. No one else may ever realize it but YOU will know. You took a blank canvas and made it yours!

Just like any project, I took the figurine on the right and pulled out colors that I wanted to use. Somehow bright colors on a snowman just didn't seem right! His clothing at least should be cool so I picked three blues to represent yet coordinate his apparel and then used warmer accents to offset the icy snowman and his cool colored clothing.

Just like a painting, warm colors offset cool and vice versa. It would have been easy to continue with pale and icy blue tones but it would have made this a bone chilling figurine that for those in the midwest and east this year have seen enough of. Instead brown squirrels frolic on our snowy friend and give a bit of warmth to what is otherwise an icy figure.

Colors, if used wisely, will always remember this rule. A strong painting cleverly uses warm tones to offset cool tones. They create a kind of tension that while we don't realize attract our attention and cause us to pay close attention to what we are seeing. The Impressionists learned and used this to their advantage. Maybe it is their effortless use of this technique that makes us love this style and era more than 100 years later.

Look closely at paintings with a Southwestern theme. Mountains may be tawny tan or russet tones but the shadows are cool blues and purples. They are just like that in real life. This contrast is arresting! Look on Pinterest at craft painting, you will notice that for every red there is a green, for every yellow a cool blue. It is this dynamic contrast that attracts our attention.

While no one has looked at my latest figurine offerings on Etsy, they did teach me a few lessons I had instinctively been doing all along but will pay more attention to in the future. Its a good lesson to learn and use with every project that we create. Every art project has a lesson, we just have to find it, learn it and use it in the future. Nothing goes to waste!

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