Playing Skills…

When I homeschooled my children, one of my goals was to develop in each of them a lifelong love of learning. That is something I have, and when it comes to art, there is always something new to learn. However, sometimes as I’m trying new skills, my old dread-of-math-homework attitude rises to the fore, squelching the “love” part of learning, and I find myself getting very tense, trying to find the one right answer, to make the exact perfect painting. I’m trying to overcome that anxiety by adopting a playful approach as I work on learning new skills, which involves lots of practice. So perhaps I should say that, just as someone learning to play piano spends time playing scales, I’m playing skills…

Right now I have stacks of library books on Japanese ink painting (sumi-e) and Chinese brush painting scattered around my house that I’ve been studying the past few weeks. I’m drawn to the economy of line and simplicity of composition that I see in much Japanese and Chinese painting, though I’m finding it isn’t always so simple for me to produce paintings with such economy of line and simplicity of composition. I’m having fun learning, though, whenever I relax and just play with my ink or paints. I’m hoping to incorporate some new skills and thoughts into my painting and drawing styles, but in the meantime, I’m just having fun making pictures and playing skills. Below is a sampling from my ever-growing pile of practice papers.

Fox in Payne’s Gray watercolor on watercolor paper
Blue Jay in sumi-e ink on rice paper
Chickadees in sumi-e ink on rice paper
Emu in sumi-e ink on rice paper
Great Horned Owl in sumi-e ink on rice paper
Koi watercolor on watercolor paper
Koi watercolor on watercolor paper