Thursday, February 6, 2020

Try new mediums, and you never know what may happen...

Hi everyone! Awhile ago, I decided to purchase some new paints - wanting a little something more opaque, but not as opaque and difficult (for me) as acrylics. I have a very good friend who paints with acrylics and I am astonished at how one can do so much with the restraints of how quickly the paints dry. I usually paint with watercolors and gouache, but I saw a few illustrators on Instagram talking about Acryl-gouache and I thought, well, I'll try it.

Not really knowing how to paint with this new medium, I stuffed it in a drawer for months, until I saw a "call for entries" and I decided it was time to try this new medium. Makes a lot of sense, right? Ha! :) 

The funny thing is that my youngest who is a first year at UC Davis, loves to paint and create with paper, fabric, needlefelting, and more, and as she packed up all of her belongings for the dorm, she was sad to not have any paint to bring with her, and so, I told her, take all that you need from the new set of Acryl-gouache I had purchased. She took a lot of colors, mostly the primaries and some beautiful purples and oranges, and so for my painting, I had to choose from the ones left behind.

I chose a flesh color, a brown, a green, an ochre, brick red, and blue. It turns out that this is a really great way to focus on the composition and content, versus choosing colors (which I am still really not great at).

The call for entries was for "children as spectators of a live performance", and so while brainstorming, I thought of the Nutcracker, and for some reason, thought there was a dancing bear. I googled to see if there was such a thing, and sure enough, the Boston Ballet is famous for it's Nutcracker dancing bear.

I sketched and sketched and added lots of little ones, and thought, wouldn't it be great to add stuffed animals, too? And what would the kids be doing while watching a performance? Well, it was pretty darned fun just to sketch those ideas out, and I didn't think too much about it as I just wanted to dig in and start painting.

I must say, painting was a LOT OF FUN! To be constrained to a limited palette, having to mix colors for skintones, clothes, hairstyles, and more, well, it was a great experiment for me and I learned so much from it. Acryl-gouache did dry quicker than watercolors and gouache, but I was able to manage it better than acrylics. I kept adding water to dilute the paints (maybe this isn't what you're supposed to do?) and then went back in to add more opacity. It was a real trial-and-error kind of experience and as I added more paint and detail, I learned more about the opacity of the paints and how to adjust for contrast and such. I plan to keep experimenting with this new medium for sure.

So today, I found out the wonderful news that my illustration was one of 38 selected to exhibit at the “Children-Spectators” exhibit at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair this year! I am still so shocked!

The piece is titled:
La Danse de l’Ours Bleu et de la Fille

So...try everything! Try different mediums and never know what can happen, and through experimentation, mistakes, and exploration, learning happens, growth happens, and I think it just keeps informing you of your own creative drive. I will keep seeking new mediums to try and remember to keep playing. What medium do you wish to try? 

I am enjoying a celebratory Peet’s coffee and then back to work-work.
Hope everyone’s well and thank you for visiting!



  1. Oh wow Shirley how amazing is your painting and I am not surprised they chose it. Many congratulations, you really rocked these new paints. I am always trying to challenge myself with new mediums, inks, paints and one of my new favourites is alcohol inks! I am no artist just a stamping crafter but it never stops me searching and playing!! Glad to hear you are well. Hugs

    1. Jane, my goodness, you're so kind..thank you so very much! That means a lot to me. And I disagree, you are completely an artist! Your creations are so beautiful..I still love my beautiful jewelry too!! How interesting re: the alcohol inks! Hope you have a great year ahead and thanks again for visiting!!

  2. Congratulations on your exhibit! So well deserved. Your art feeds my soul, my inner child, who seems to become more alive with each year I advance. Please continue to fill this little blue planet with your Love.

    **blows kisses**

  3. Aww, Deborah, you're soooo kind, thank you!! I'm so happy you stopped by and you are so generous, thank you for your support through the years, I really appreaciet it so much! Hope you have a wonderful creative and happy year ahead!!


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