Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Artist - what a scary word!

"It took me a long time not to view myself through someone else's eyes."

My son-in-law recently asked me if I've always been artistic. My first thought was to look around and see who on earth he was talking to! I never thought of myself as artistic. In my family, art meant drawing or painting, talents that clearly skipped over me. I remember very clearly when I got the first notification that I was not an artist- in kindergarten, for crying out loud! It was Thanksgiving time, and we were to draw turkeys. I drew mine with great enthusiasm, only to have the teacher hold it up and announce that we were supposed to be drawing turkeys and mine did not look anything like one. Note to self - can't draw. Several years later I did actually draw a pretty decent representation of a woman that even impressed my drawing-capable sister. Parent-ish person announced that there was no way I could have drawn something so good - note to self- even when you can draw, you can't draw. End of art career.

Decades later, I started playing with a few rubber stamps and realized there was an end-run around not being able to draw - stamp what someone else drew! Then my good friend, SRC, started making wonderfully artistic cards and I decided to have a go at it. I read everything I could about stamping techniques and poured over stamping magazines. Now several years later, I'm pretty comfortable with what I do, have sold a few things, and wonder of wonders, have had someone ask me if I've always been "artistic"! Who knew?

I belong to several on-line paper art groups where there is a recurring discussing about our reluctance to call ourselves artists and what we do art. Why? For me, it somehow seems presumptuous, a term to be reserved for a very select few. But why? Why do we shy away from acknowledging our talent - maybe not as developed or well-known as others, but talent just the same.

I love the Van Gogh quote" If someone tells you you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced." So, no more listening to that tape in my head that says I can't do it - maybe I can't draw, but I'm having a great time stamping, gluing, embellishing and learning how to do more. And yes, it's art.

I recently decided to try a big (for me) mixed media canvas as a gift for my Montana daughter. I've never done something on this scale (16x20) and found all that blank space intimidating. Out to various blogs to get some technique ideas and here's a peek at the preliminary stages. One thing I've learned - if it doesn't look right - a swipe of gesso and some paint and you can start over!

This is the first steps - painted gesso over the canvas, then some brown, green, yellow paint.
Then I used some gel medium to attach some papers, text and fibers.
And a wash of green, some orange and yellow glaze over everything. I freaked out about the wrinkles, thinking I'd have to cover them with something, but after 24 hours or so, everything dried out nice and flat - whew!


I attached a piece of mesh paper and a bird rescued from an old Cavellini catalog. The orange seemed a bit overpowering, so covered most of it with some more gesso and a wash of pale yellow glaze. I dribbled some wax all over the bird and over most of the fibers- a medium I need lots more practice to perfect! I like the texture of the wax, but need to smooth it out a bit. May try shooting it with the heat gun.

Stay tuned for the finished product - I've made some fabric flowers and text leaves for it and think some old metal hinges might find a spot, too.


  1. Yay! You are most certainly artistic... don't hold yourself back!

  2. Can't wait to see it finished! Birds are my thing.

  3. Cool canvas can't wait to see the updates...



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