The Drawing Board #7
A Visual Week: Painting class with Mom, CV4W workshop, resurrecting old art
This has been a very visual week.
1. I started taking a painting class with my mom.
Actually, it’s more like a meet-up for retired folk to bond over painting a few hours each week. But it’s the right vibe for me right now. Getting out of my home for a few hours, sitting in a big room flooded with natural light, listening to classical music while painting is as relaxing as it sounds. And our classmates are genuinely sweet.
Our teacher often tells me to be “more free.”
I default to painting as realistic as possible, but I want to learn how to paint like an impressionist. Some of my favorite artists are impressionists. Historic artists include Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh, and Monet, and artists I’m inspired by today are Sari Shryack and Silver Francis.
With the vibrant colors and expressive brushstrokes, the paintings come to life. When you zoom in, each brush stroke looks abstract. But zoomed out you clearly see what’s captured in the painting.
I want to be “more free,” like the impressionists, but I’m having a hard time letting go of my comfort zone: perfectionism. Tediously obsessing over every little detail, using the tiniest brush I have to accurately depict every corner of the object I’m painting, is where I thrive. It’s how I taught myself how to achieve realism.
I must get this trait from my mom. She’s been working on this painting for weeks! Maybe months? She’s perfecting the door. Every week she keeps saying something isn’t right. But I think it’s perfect. Each brush stroke is an individual expression, but when combined, clearly represent a door.
I’ve been trying to achieve a similar aesthetic in my own painting. There’s so much I see wrong compared to the original picture. To me, it’s not leaning towards realistic, nor impressionism. But our teacher told me the painting is done, that it’s time I move onto the next one. But is it done?
It doesn’t feel done. I want to improve my craft as a painter. I want to paint masterpieces like Van Gogh. But maybe I just need to learn to let go. I need to look at my painting with fresh eyes, like I look at my mom’s. Or maybe I should just have my mom be my fresh set of eyes.
Maybe I should listen to our teacher and be prolific, because that might be the best way to achieve mastery in a lifetime. What are your thoughts on this? When do you decide when your work is done?
2. I co-hosted a workshop for the Creating Visuals for Writing group.
It was a last minute frenzy. I spent the entire 36 hours before the presentation obsessing (not surprising) over all the little details in each slide. I made sure every image was perfectly centered, that the sequence of content made sense, and that each slide wasn’t visually overwhelming.
The presentation went well and felt so natural. I didn’t even look at my notes that I painstakingly perfected up to 5 minutes before my cue. It felt so freeing to present my slide deck, talk about composition and art, and encourage participation from the group.said I was so alive.
The group learned 3 fundamental principles that historic artists used to create visual flow in their paintings, that the group can apply to their own drawings:
My favorite moments in this presentation were when these slides came to life. I asked the group to sketch visual flow (their eye movement) over the paintings using Zoom’s Annotate feature. Everyone annotated immediately, no one stumbled. It was chaotic, yet uniform. I was so happy at how fast everyone learned these techniques and how they create visual flow.
Preparing visuals and speaking about them is something I haven’t done in a long time… like… since working as an architect. Creating visual presentations is second nature for me. I used to create clear visuals for clients, to explain how parts of their new building go together. But it felt really good to get such positive feedback from my new creator community.
After the presentation, I got to analyze and give feedback to my friends’ Sandra anddrawings (thank you guys for volunteering 🥰). Helping my friends felt SO good, and felt even more natural than the presentation.
Thank you Sandra & Jess for your kind words:
CV4W Hostasked if I thought about creating a course. I hadn't considered a course, but maybe some day...? What do you think? Would you benefit from a course where I teach design fundamentals of visual arts?
2/21/2023 UPDATE: The presentation is recorded and posted on youtube below, enjoy!
3. I resurrected an old drawing I found hidden in a sketchbook.
Do what feels right.
Create what feels right.
Fall in love with that feeling.
And let it lead you.
Thanks for reading, see you next time!
Happy Creating, Elizabeth
Like, everything you shared here is sheer beauty and pleasure! Really love the color wheels, the rule of thirds, and painting with mom...Like, just everything is gorgeous, what's not to love! <3
Hi, long time reader here, excited to see TDB today. I was anxiously awaiting its arrival since the last one. You really kept me in suspense! But I love this issue!! And the yellow/pink energy here. I have a few thoughts:
“Getting out of my home for a few hours, sitting in a big room flooded with natural light, listening to classical music while painting is as relaxing as it sounds.”
This sounds like such a good time, I’m mad that this class is on the other side of the country. Otherwise I would be all up in there. It’s the perfect combo of things for me, especially because it includes two of my favorite things: old people and Liz. ✨
Fully obsessed with the disco balls!! Those coasters. The color. So visually appetizing. Generally, just loving all the flower energy here too, especially Monet.
“When you zoom in, each brush stroke looks abstract. But zoomed out you clearly see what’s captured in the painting.”
I kinda love this sentiment, especially in thinking about how we look at life and not seeing the full “painting” when you’re so focused in on something, you miss out on what’s actually there, or don’t see the role its playing is much larger, contributing to something greater. Or rather, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” At the same time, the more you zoom in on something you can see all the peculiar details in that one thing and learn to appreciate how something unique or abstract, on its own, is a “masterpiece”, but then you take all of those unique brushstrokes and put them together and they amplify each other to become: one big beautiful masterpiece.
On a similar note, this line: “Each brush stroke is an individual expression, but when combined, clearly represent a door.”
I think this hits on again, the importance of a single thing, be it a brushstroke, a line, or a sentence, or even a single word. But I’m also thinking about the uniqueness aspect and this idea of expression and how much of one person’s style or voice can be broken down to this one specific thing. Like how a brushstroke, the expression in that, can be uniquely one person’s. I think about this not just in painting, but in drawing, or writing, etc. You can look at something in its basic form, take a sentence, and someone can look at it and identify how it’s uniquely yours. And I think that’s special.
Should I turn this comment into an essay? Lol
Tell your mom Sandra thinks her painting is beautiful. My goal is to one day paint with her (and you) while conducting an interview of her. Let her know that. Plant the seed for me. I have many questions lined up for her.
“What are your thoughts on this? When do you decide when your work is done?”
I think like with all things, there’s fluidity in this, not necessarily a one way to decide that can be applied to everything all the time. Sometimes it’s when there are “no notes” left. Sometimes it’s taking the power back and you deciding when it’s done. Sometimes it’s when you’re more excited for the next thing. Sometimes it’s when the deadline hits. Sometimes it’s when you’ve done the best you can do and recognizing if you do anything else it may cause more harm than help. But mostly, I think it’s trusting your intuition.
Loving your painting, by the way. It’s BEAUTIFUL. Do you take pictures throughout the process? I would LOVE to see it at various stages, or for the next one you do. Consider breaking one down sometime?
Also, I think the best part of your presentation was truly you; your personality, your delivery, and the energy you bring. It’s really the way you carry yourself. I think while content is important and the flow of the presentation itself was very good, watching someone (you) who genuinely cares about what they’re saying and is putting thought into it like you did is more important. But more than that, back to what I talked about earlier today, humility is so key, especially (!!!!!) when talking about something like Historic Art, or any art in any form. Some people come from a place of wanting to impress instead of just sharing what they’ve learned or are learning and passing it along for the purpose of helping. Watching you felt like literally watching a friend teach you something really cool that they’re excited by. That is a very good thing! You could do a presentation or even just talk about something as simple as …I don’t know, an Apple Watch? and you would have my full attention.
P.S. You should consider repurposing that old drawing. Turn it into something new!
P.P.S. Please share more old drawings!!!!! :)
(Thank you for reading this mini essay.)
((I already can't wait for my next issue of TDB.))