I threw a Magic Meadow birthday party for my daughter yesterday. I created a Magic Meadow theme with decorations, refreshments, even noise makers that sound like toucans (!). The party reflected pictures and themes from the book, Kandu and the Magic Meadow.
OK, OK, I know we’re “grown-ups”. I think that made it all the more fun–recapturing some simple, long-lost, childhood joys! Sometimes just doing the unexpected gets the greatest reaction. It was a blast!
Things are so doggone serious these days! It’s a relief to do something totally whimsical. Try it. I think you’ll feel refreshed! Laughter IS good medicine!
I’ve certainly had a great time painting illustrations for my children’s book!
Kandu and Toucans Mix Colors in the Magic Meadow illustration link
Little did I know how absorbed I would become in this project! I hadn’t recently pictured myself doing this instead of “grown-up” painting, but I’m finding it is an invigorating challenge and great joy. I’ve always loved and collected children’s books for their imaginative art and colorful pictures. A few times I’ve created cartoon-like, childlike cards and even some small paper books for special events, but just for one-person viewing. Now my grand wish is to have a book that many will enjoy and will use for family time. So I’m pursuing a new possibility, and it’s FUN!
Do you have a dream of doing something that you’ve not yet made time to venture into? Take that first step, and see where it leads you. You may be surprised and delighted at the sense of fulfillment and joy you feel, even just beginning. A first step, after all, is affirmation to yourself that your dream is worthy of pursuing. It may energize you for the second step and you will realize there IS time in your day to explore the possibilities!
Where have I been? I’ve been absorbed in writing a children’s book about color mixing. Illustrating it has been a blast! I’ve used my watercolor painting in new ways. How exhilarating! Here is the cover of the book, with one of the illustrations from the story of Kandu (a toucan) and the Magic Meadow.
Now, off I go to create just a couple more.
I love the colors of autumn! They linger so briefly, which only makes them more valuable to the admiring eye. Time to stop, look, and listen to the happy crackling and rustling underfoot, or behind the rake. The dynamic reds, pinks, tangerines, golds, and oranges against the older tans, browns and grays provide great contrast to one another.
Try this for fun: Gather up an assortment of leaves, berries, and grasses, and group them together against a dark background. Photograph them and save in your picture file to refer to for those up-close-and-personal foreground areas in your paintings. You’ll be able to enjoy the colors again when you’re ready to paint an Autumn scene during the cold, wet, rainy, snowy days of winter.
These colors and shapes make wonderful reference pictures for abstract paintings, too, when you just want to paint beautiful autumn colors with abandon!
What is Impresssionism? You probably are familiar with Claude Monet, one of the most popular and reproduced artists from the beginnings of impressionist painting. The subject matter in his paintings are identifiable, but the fine details are suggested, not painted with laborious little strokes. Impressionism creates a mood, a feeling about the subject matter. Impressionism gives ample room for the viewer’s imagination to fill in the details.
Impressionism is a fun way to go about a painting. It frees up your mind and your hand to try new effects with splashes of color with broader, less defined strokes of the brush. It’s a great way to go about a painting when you just want to relax, and feel playful and adventurous. It works best for me after I’ve worked really hard on a painting and need a break from the concentration. I start the impressionistic project with a feeling of, “Oh what the heck, let’s just see what THIS will do!”
That’s when the fun begins. No expectations. No audience. I’m painting just for the fun of discovery and adventure. I paint MY mood, MY feelings, using MY colors, whatever is in my imagination. Anything goes!
I’m always happy with the result, because I’ve expressed myself and have had fun doing it. It will never hang in The Louvre, but for my own personal experience and expression, it is just as important as any artwork that does!
In case you didn’t know how to answer the question about this photo in the earlier blog, I’ll give you the answer. The beautiful colors and abstract shapes in the photo above are of the Swan Nebula. Gorgeous art in space! To think all that breath-taking heavenly art just hangs in space while we go about our grocery shopping! What a disconnect. It’s mind-boggling.
And the photo below is of the Northern Lights, also called aurora borealis. The photo was taken in Alaska. Another great example of Art in the Heavens. As if the stars, moon, and comets weren’t enough! What a show of magnificence!
Makes me realize beauty is all around us, all the time. Just need to open our eyes.
What is Abstract Art Anyway?
Abstract, as opposed to representational or realistic type art, is the most free-form variety of colors, textures, media, shapes, composition! It’s fun to view and even more fun to create! Like any other style of art, your preferences will influence which pieces you call “art” and which you wrinkle your nose at! I’ve wrinkled my nose and furrowed my brow at abstract art that doesn’t strike my fancy. You probably have, too. However, other pieces capture my imagination and draw me into the painting as I feast on the colors and try to guess what the artist was thinking or feeling when he or she created it.
There are oodles of examples of abstract art all around us. Look into the center of a flower. Notice the bands and sweeps of color in the sunset sky. Look into a microscope. Look into a telescope. Abstract art surrounds us whether as tiny as an amoeba or as majestic as the Northern Lights. Get up close and eliminate the bigger picture to find abstract art in a small space by using a one-inch square cut out of paper, a tiny window. Changing shapes of shadows are a great source of abstract inspiration, too.
The fun of painting abstractly is the spontaneity of reacting to the colors and happenings on your watercolor paper, or canvas, without the over-hanging dread of “what if this doesn’t come out looking like a…. (fill in the blank!)” It is totally relaxing because it is done without having to create something in an exacting way. It’s creating with the freedom of enjoying the colors, angles, shapes that appear on the paper or canvas. It can almost take on a life of its own.
Play with it. Have fun! Can you guess what either of these two photos is?
(Find answer, if you’re stumped.)
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I remember loving art when I was 3 or 4 years old. Most of us love art at that time. It’s the greatest feeling to ooze tiny fingers around in fingerpaint, roll shapes from a ball of clay, (didn’t you make little worms of clay, too?) How about mixing colors for Easter egg painting? I remember the “magic” of getting into my mother’s make-up and creating a new face of bright red lips and scarlet chubby cheeks. Looking in the mirror, I was sure I was “the fairest in the land” with my newly fashioned face!
When do we lose this natural attraction to creating with colors, textures, and shapes? How many of us experienced some comment about a prized work of art we created at a tender age–a comment that defeated the joy of creativity, and caused us to believe we just didn’t have what it takes to create art!
A wonderful man remembers sitting in his little desk in first grade and diligently coloring a picture of an elephant. He recalls feeling so proud of the wonderful work he was creating, and could hardly wait until his teacher would see it, as she drifted around the class, encouraging and congratulating her young students on their art work. When she came to his desk, he proudly showed her his very best effort. Instead of being congratulated on his colorful rendition, he heard his teacher exclaim, “Patrick, elephants aren’t GREEN!” Woeful Patrick was deflated. As he told me this story he said, “I didn’t know elephants weren’t green. I had never seen an elephant. I was mortified.”
These kinds of stories abound. “You Can Do It! ART” is all about self-expression! Green elephants are wonderful. Who made the rule that elephants can’t be colored or painted any way a person imagines or enjoys them! This is art, not science. Although there is plenty of room for art and science to coexist, they should not be defined by one another!
You may remember an experience like young Patrick’s. If not at age 6, it may have been earlier. It may have been later. It may be an experience that colored (forgive the pun) your impression of art, and tainted your belief in your own creativity. These experiences are often painfully remembered. But the injury does not prove the source of the pain was the “final answer” to whether you are artistic, creative, or anything else.
I hope you love art. If you do not, I hope you will remember the joy you experienced at a time when creating art satisfied you because YOU did it. It was your creation, no one else’s. Explore art afresh with a liberated mind, remembering the excitement and fun you felt before someone rained on your parade! Enjoy the creative experience again. You do not have to impress anyone. Just paint. Be free. Have fun.
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