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Chinese Brush Painting

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I picked up a Chinese Brush Painting project book complete with paints and brushes and instructions at the college book faire Tuesday. I was intrigued by the simplicity of the colors and line/form of the drawings and wanted to give it a try...because, um, err, "I'm a painter!" (yeah, right!).

Painting from the Wild Heart

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Date: April 2003.

(Closeups are below, accompanied by discussion of each painting.)

These paintings were done in a "creative painting" class called Painting from the Wild Heart. I was intrigued by the description:

Experience the joy of painting with passion and intensity by learning to trust your intuition. Be supported in using the process of painting as a tool for self-discovery, healing, and renewal, rather than painting for outcome. Painting in this natural way gently allows you to let go of the inner critic that keeps you from experiencing your full aliveness and creativity. Regardless of what you think about your talent, skill or experience, you can paint like you never have before. All you need is the desire to paint and the courage to express yourself.

The class was on Saturday, April 19. I signed up on April 16 and was very excited! I wanted to do something abstract, colorful, with line and form and shadow and balance. Something that wasn't realistic, that didn't look like a photograph. I wanted to break free from my box.

I discovered that I'm not in my box as far as I thought. Which is good. But, I also discovered that I don't have many demons or dreams or whatever that want to be expressed - at least not through painting. (They seem to come out more freely when writing in a paper journal!)

It was freeing just to put color on the paper and not be concerned about making a mistake or making something not look right. After all, in the abstract world, what is a mistake? what doesn't look right? It is all a jumble...at least to me. A balanced, colorful jumble.

We used a water-based paint the woman leading the workshop called tempura on thick, smooth white paper. We could use as much paint and as much paper as we wanted. There were no assignments.

It was a 4-hour workshop. The first 30 minutes or so was spent introducing ourselves and discussing how the workshop would flow. No one was to comment on anyone's work, not even a compliment. We were told to ignore our inner critic - the one that tells us we aren't good enough, the one that prevents us from following our desires.

Then, we put on smocks and setup our painting space. I got 2 large cups of water (to rinse the brushes with), several brushes from large and puffy to small and narrow, some great sponge brushes in different sizes, and placed dabs of whatever colors grabbed my attention onto a tray the size and shape of a cafeteria food tray.

The workshop was held in the woman's living room. There is a tall table in the middle of the room and an old couch placed in front of the large window from which a lot of light shined. The 3 walls of the room (not the window wall) were covered with floor-to-ceiling boards that had paint splattered all over them (from top to bottom). Each of us used push-pins to tack the 4 corners of our first sheet of the thick white paper onto the board in front of us and then...we painted. For just over 3 hours. The last 20 minutes was spent cleaning up and talking about how the workshop went for each of us.

I enjoyed watching the paint slide off the end of the paint brush onto the white paper, making streaks of color across the page - especially, the first stroke onto a clean sheet. It reminded me of riding a jet ski at Hogan's Lake in the early morning when the water is still...the wake created by the jet ski, the ripples forming and spreading across the water, the freedom, the peace, the feeling of making my mark.

I especially liked working with the dry sponge brushes. They left a rough, textured appearance of paint on the paper. The second and fourth paintings exclusively used the sponge brushes, except of course for the hand-prints on the second one.

I'm not sure I'll take another class like that, since I prefer some direction, but I'm glad I took the class - I would have wondered and wondered about it if I hadn't.

I think I'm going to take another Bob Ross "Joy of Painting" class in May. I really liked working with the oil paints.



(large, 800 pixels wide version)

Date: January 2003.

My first painting (other than paint-by-number sets when I was a kid)!

I took a Bob Ross "Joy of Painting" class at Michaels Craft Store - it was fun!

I had fun playing with the paints and learning what strokes the different brushes can do. The names of the paints are much more fancy than Blue, Red, and Green. Apparently the Bob Ross-type paints are specially-formulated oil paints that allow the painter to paint on top of wet paint so there isn't a need to wait for an underlying color to dry before painting on top of it.

Everyone in the class did the same painting, but each person created the painting in their own style. One woman in the class used thick strokes of paint. I was being careful not to use too much paint since I was very new to the whole thing.

Sketch of Cheryl

About Cheryl

Enjoys crocheting, gardening, cats, NASCAR (especially Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch!), reading, photography, snorkeling in Kailua-Kona with sea turtles, Sizzler's Mega Bacon Cheeseburgers, hot and iced decaf coffee, dark chocolate, color (yarn, fabric), playing around with web technologies - not necessarily in that order! Still very much a beginner with quilting, knitting, and sewing. Donates crocheted lap blankets.

List maker, detail-oriented, organized, leans heavily toward perfectionism. ISTJ. Libra.

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