Scrunchy Frustrated Girl

I’ve been feeling rather stuck this week, frustrated and exhausted in just about every area of my life.  Not surprisingly, this came out in my art too.  I did a bunch of new sketches of girls that I really love and excitedly set out to paint them.  My eyes are looking good, the shading is giving some lovely depth.  I was finally going to use a smallish (9 X 11) canvas I bought weeks ago.  I felt ready!

Before I started painting, I figured I should warm up a little by finishing off a painting from the summer that I couldn’t get quite right.  I tried over and over again to add depth and shade under the eyes, but blending the paint was a problem – either too dry so it wouldn’t blend at all, or too much water so the paint just smeared off and I got blank spots.  So frustrating!  Weeks ago I had just painted over the entire face and left it to come back to on another day.  With all my new knowledge of shading and gel medium, I figured I’d knock this face out in 20 minutes.  Ha!

Three hours later, I did finish the painting, but I hate it (no, didn’t scan it for you guys).  The shading turned out well, I can say that.  The face though…the eyes are a little off, the nose and mouth placement way too scrunchy, far too big a chin – just not working.  And that’s when I started to get frustrated.

I had sketched out the placement for the eyes, nose & mouth before I started working on the skin.  But as I painted, my jawline and chin got bigger and bigger.  I got flesh colored paint inside the whites of the eyes & had to go over them countless times.  I got skin in the hair and hair in the skin.  I basically kept working different areas over and over and over.  By the time I’d worked the skin, there was no way to see my original sketch for the nose or mouth or even the original jawline.

I’ve asked for advice from a couple of people and the general consensus is that it just takes practice.  Normally I’d be fine with that.  I expect that it will take a lifetime of painting to develop my skill to the level I’d like to be at.  But this feels so much like “coloring inside the lines” that it really irked me this week.

On the flip side, I can totally see why mixed media artists like Suzi Blu do stuff like sketch out their girls on wood, then do wood burning along the outside lines.  You run the risk of royally screwing up your sketch with an unsteady wood burning hand, but at least if you paint outside the lines a bit you can still SEE your lines!

Anyway, I never got to the canvas that night and have been too scared to touch it since.  I guess I’ll have to keep practicing on paper until I get my artist courage up again.  Normally this kind of stuff rolls right off my back, but I’ve had a brutal week with a major meltdown at work involving my server being hacked to the tune of an extra $900 bill in bandwidth charges plus a doggy health crisis that I really can’t get into right now without crying.  Let’s just say bad timing for art suckage!

I’m starting a drawing class at Emily Carr next week and am excited about that.  I need to figure out how to scrape up enough money to buy the supplies though.  Four different kinds of charcoal?  Really???

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