Bruce Charles Wilson was born June 28, 1985. I don’t remember much about him at that time, but his birth brought me the greatest gift of all: a plastic charm bracelet (you 80’s girls know what I’m talking about).
I painted this entire piece upside down to try to focus on shapes and colors vs face/hand/eye etc.
I must have felt an intense responsibility for Bruce, though. The first dream I can remember occurred during that time. I’m carrying him and I discover he has a fatal shrinking disease. Soon, he can fit in palm of my hand and I have to keep him in a plastic bag to protect him. I still feel a little scared and frantic when I think about that nightmare.
This is my favorite part of the whole painting. I could look at this for days.
Deborah, my younger sister, also wanted to protect our new baby. She turned his bassinet over once while trying to comfort his cries.
Deborah’s face was the most difficult part for me. I’m not even sure why. But I loved the end result so much.
One day, Bruce would grow into a little boy with crazy-curly hair and permanent coating of dirt, but those stories are for another time.
I was commenting on another blog post, and I realized I’d typed something that I’ve wanted to say for a while. So I pasted it here as a jumping off point:
I’ve just accepted that I’m always going to be in the learning phase, and that it’s ok. It’s helped me a lot to hear pros say they toss about half of everything they create. I used to treat everything like it was going to be THE masterpiece (and still struggle with that) so I’m not willing to take risks, and it makes me wait until I am super inspired. I’m working really hard now to reframe all my work ask practice, at least for now.
I’ve been more or less hiding the painting above for a week or so. I put a lot of time into it, but it wasn’t working. I finally decided to go out on a limb and try some dramatic coloring. I definitely learned some beneficial things, but this wasn’t the fix I was looking for. I was disappointed. So I hid it.
But that’s me slinking back to my old ways of only showing my work when I feel like it’s good enough, trying to pretend like I don’t create bad work.
So I’m a learner. So I mess up. A lot. It’s going to be ok… it’s going to be ok.
I came across Lisa Clough-Lachri of Lachri Fine Art when I was searching for YouTube videos about motivation to paint and becoming better at the business side of art. I connected immediately with her videos. It was like she was answering every question I’d ever asked.
This was one of the first videos I watched and it was enormously helpful to me. She recommends putting thought into your sensory experience while painting, which was really intriguing to me. Sounds, smells, having tea while you paint (if you feel safe drinking in your studio!)… just setting up this routine that engages your senses and lets your brain know what mode to be in.
Shnoof Learns to Draw. Acrylic, Crayon, and Collage on Canvas. 16×20. April 4, 2016.
I finished my newest piece, Shnoof Learns to Draw, last night and wanted to share my process.
I don’t have an exciting story for how this painting popped into my head. I’d already completed the background and was sort of staring at it to decide what I wanted to do and then the idea just sort of unfolded. I based the mouse on a face my niece does along with some features from my 18 month old.
First of all, I am TERRIBLE at translating images from my head to paper. I have to just sort of feel my way through it. For a long time I’ve been embarrassed by that, but it is what it is and I’m making efforts to improve. Don’t let fear and self-consciousness prevent you from creating! All artists struggle with something.
I currently enjoy sketching my figures into a sketchbook, cutting out the image, and then adhering it to my canvas with matte medium. This time I actually made a photocopy for my work so I could keep the original.
I didn’t photograph the process of creating my background. This particular piece was made by covering a canvas with an old sketch of mine, painting the image, then ripping off strips of the paper. I then laid down several washes to create the look I wanted for the floor and wall.
I had my baby help me with the crayon scribbles because I wanted it to look authentic. I held his hand and helped him make the recognizable shapes. He loved this part and was really upset when he had to stop. (I’d like to add a note here for artists who are moms, or even artists who have day jobs and are crazy busy and never have time to paint: I did this painting largely in 15-20 minute bursts. I often fail to create because I think I don’t have time, but by carving out tiny chunks here and there, I was able to put my vision on canvas and still have time for my other roles. When my baby got tired of playing alone and couldn’t take it anymore, I just stopped. When my older son wanted me to play Minecraft with him, I’d tell him I was going to set a 20 minute timer and then spend time with him. I hope this is an encouragement for those of you who are struggling to fit it in as well!)
I started layering paint when I had time. I tried out a new wet into wet technique using a mop brush (which is made out of goat hair and definitely smells like it). You can find the tutorial I used here. I don’t have an airbrush so I had to stop when my paint started drying. But just the small bit I did made a huge difference in my color blending!
In the name of transparency, I will show you a failed attempt at fur. I used my palette knife to hold my paint and a tiny brush to try to add fur on the stomach and muzzle. No no no no. I had to cover all that up. It did not go well.
To finalize the piece, I went over the scribbles that I wanted to stand out. Once I finished filling in my image, I went around the entire thing with a brown black outline.
Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear if you try any of these techniques in your own work and tips for how you fit creativity into your days!
This is a short and sweet post to announce the launch of the Lemonwood Clock Facebook page. I took a creative break due to random life events, like growing a baby (that’s still creative!) and badly breaking my toe (I found a creative way to do it too!! I can’t stop!).
I’m really excited to share quick progress updates and amazing tips I’ve been learning and to share other artists that have been inspiring me. I also want to create a space where other artists can feel encouraged and have conversations about their experiences as well.
Hope to see you there!
(Pssst, also look for lemonwoodclock on instagram!)
At the beginning of the year, I officially (re)started preschooling Dexter. I have created our curriculum for the year, and I’d love to share some of our activities and themes with you moms out there! I’ll be showing some pictures of things we did and sharing the resources I’ve compiled for that theme.
I was so excited about studying penguins last week, because I found some really cute ideas online. And I figured this would be a topic that Dexter could really get into.
We started the week out by discussing penguins. I found some really informative books for kids at Mckay’s. Dexter loves books and he was able to stay engaged and learn a lot without just having me lecture him about the topic.
I strongly suggest going by a used book store and loading up on books to supplement your preschool curriculum. I know a lot of people love to go to the library, and that’s great too. I spent about $25 on as many books as I could (most of my books were under $1), and I’m really glad I did that because I don’t feel the pressure to get to the library weekly.
I borrowed some plastic penguins from my mom (thanks, Grandma!!!) so we could have imaginative play. Primarily, Dex enjoyed having the penguins slide down cardboard tubes. And we also let the penguins swim in some ice water. So, if you don’t have some play items that go with your theme, you could consider borrowing some like we did! Dexter was actually excited when we sent them back because he understood that they came from Grandma’s house. He even got really into writing (drawing) her a thank-you note to send with them.
We then watched March of the Penguins. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can stream this for free! Take note that there are several death-related scenes in the movie and be prepared to answer those questions! Dexter’s favorite part was when the babies came, and how they hid under their parents’ bellies. We snuggled in bed to watch it, and he kept telling me, “I want to hide in your tummy!” and would snuggle up against me and cover up with blankets.
For movement, we waddled around like penguins. We did this after watching our documentary, when Dex had a really good idea about how penguins move and sound. We also played Mama Penguin/Baby Penguin by having him climb on my feet and waddle him around the room.
Later in the week, we looked for penguin songs on YouTube. I’m sure I’ve suggested this before, but it’s better to prep for this. I’ve made the mistake (a couple of times) of searching *with* Dex, and then stumbling across something soooo inappropriate. So take a some time during your lesson planning to find some cute songs that you may not know.
These are just a few we found on the fly. If you don’t like the music/video etc, another suggestion is to learn the songs by yourself and teach them to you child.
The thing I was REALLY excited about was the fun snack for the week!
I made him a little penguin environment. My penguins are SO SLOPPY, as my hands were shaking a little from the anxiety of having someone stand behind you and constantly say, “Is it ready yet?? Is it ready yet??” (Have I told you yet to prepare ahead of time when you can??) The good news is that kids will love them even if they are not perfect. I found this at Gourmet Mom On The Go. She used toothpicks to hold them together, but since I only made two at a time for one child, I just sort of pasted them together with cream cheese and hope. They are made from large and collosal black olives (I’d never seen a collosal olive, and they weren’t lying. Those things are HUGE!). You split them down the middle, fill them with cream cheese (I used plain), and use a slice of carrot to make the feet and beak! So cute.
Dexter helped me make the blue ocean jello. He just observed until we got to the cold water stage, so he wouldn’t get burned.
I can’t encourage you enough to let your child help you cook as often as you can. Dexter LOVES to help, and he is excited to eat what we make together.
I bought some pretzel goldfish and threw in some marshmallows for snow.
As I said before, he was super antsy to see what I was making him, especially since he knew it involved the jello we made. But I was so happy with his response: when I turned and showed him his surprise he said, “Oh yay!!!! It’s my birthday!!!!” Sweet, sweet, silly boy :).
He literally grabbed his jello and had it down within about 3 seconds. It was amazing to behold. (Also note that he is wearing his penguin pj’s! He gets really excited to dress according to our theme.)
Other food ideas include eating foods that penguins eat. Their diet consists of fish, shrimp, and squid. We had some fish, which he was so excited about, since it’s penguin food and all. I don’t eat shrimp, but now he’s really excited to try it with Daddy someday. And, well… we’re just not doing squid. He can check that out on his own time.
I was really happy because we were able to take a field trip to the local aquarium to see the penguins there! Normally those penguins are shy, but this time they were very playful. Find out if your town has an aquarium or zoo where you can see animals you are studying!
I had originally planned for us to study the letter P, but he just doesn’t seem interested in the alphabet right now. I worked on phonics some by pointing out words that start with P, but that was about it.
For art, we did a penguin coloring sheet together. I’d planned for us to paint craft sticks like penguins and play with them, but we just didn’t have the time. (The craft sticks I’d suggest using are like these snowmen.)
There was so much more I’d hoped to do, but just didn’t have the time for. Here are a few more links and suggestions I collected:
In the process of moving, we’ve decided to let go of a lot of our possessions. Tonight I was going through my paintings, deciding what I could price to sell, and taking pictures. My 14 month old, Dexter, was being quite rambunctious. Why didn’t I just wait til he was in bed, you may say. Why, indeed.
To distract him, I gave him crayons. I thought to myself, “What a clever mommy I am! This will keep him from grabbing my paintings!”
A specific painting I photographed was one everyone seemed to love. It’s an appropriation of American Gothic I did in college. I call it American Urban.
Not five minutes after taking this picture:
I turn to discover that my dear Dexter is enthusiastically adding his own touch to the painting:
I gasped and exclaimed a long “Nooooooooooooooooo!”, with wide-eyed disbelief.
And then I started laughing. What can you do? Dexter knew I wasn’t happy, he had a concerned look. He probably figured the laughing was a precursor to a complete mental breakdown. So I squatted down to get a better look and he leaned in and kissed me lol.
All is forgiven, but he’s been relocated to the highchair to complete the rest of his studio time.
Hopefully the crayon will come off my painting. If not, anyone wanna buy and Rebekah-Dexter collaboration??