The Collision of Arts and Sciences–Blood, Sweat, and Acryllic Paint

As D3Z previously mentioned, Staci hosted the first ever Errant Easel Workshop on Saturday night. Our topic was Acrylic Painting and I was so excited about it. The opportunity to learn and share what I’ve learned from my talented friends is one of the major perks of participating in the Errant Easel Project. I have so much respect for the artistic inclinations of people like Staci, D3Z, and Brad who all majored in art in college and are brave enough to create and share their work with the world. Well, after Saturday night’s workshop, let me just say that respect has grown ten-fold or more.

While visiting the Sweet Corn Festival at Evans Orchard in Georgetown, KY Saturday morning, Adam sweetly bought D3Z and I freshly picked flowers including beautiful Gerber daisies and sunflowers which were soon designated our acrylic painting subjects for the evening. Having appropriated D3Z’s kitchen table, we sat down to get to work.

The first lesson of the night for me was getting comfortable with drawing my guidelines for my painting on the canvas. Please don’t laugh too loudly at this but putting pencil to canvas was so very intimidating to me. One might expect the trouble I had trying to translate the three dimensional flower and vase before me into a two dimensional picture on canvas. (Staci was so helpful in explaining how I should think of drawing and painting as layer building like in Photoshop and how I could break 3D objects into 2D geometric shapes to build the image on canvas). However, one would also expect that in the company of close friends I would be reasonably confident enough to put down a rough sketch on the paper. Unfortunately, I felt nearly paralyzed by personal insecurity from the get go. Thankfully, with kind reassurances and pointers in the right direction, I was able to get started. Haltingly. Painfully. And under great personal duress.

A great tip that Staci shared with me while drawing was not to worry about making my initial drawing too detailed. The point of the sketch was to give us guidelines that we don’t even have to worry about following if it doesn’t work out. It was really comforting for me to hear that if it wasn’t perfect no one would know because we were just going to paint over it anyway but it was really difficult advice for me to follow in spite of that. The intent wasn’t photorealism but you wouldn’t have known that watching me painstakingly attempt to draw in every tiny plant reproductive structure. Thankfully, Staci intervened and with her unfaltering patience and excellent demos, the initial sketch was achieved.


Me, probably at my most uncomfortable and Staci, probably at her most patient!

“Now we get to the fun part!” Staci reassured me. I here learned the importance and effect of using interesting colors for underpainting and doing a wash prior to getting to the top coats of color. We talked about techniques and guidelines for mixing paint and how color eats white and black is such a flattening color. It was really interesting to learn these “rules” and I found myself kind of clinging to them to get me through each step.

D3Z and Staci asked me at one point if I liked it. Without thinking or trying to edit my response for people pleasing I informed them that this was the most uncomfortable thing I had ever done in my life but that I really wanted to like it. There was so much to learn and atrophied parts of my brain were tingling that hadn’t been used since the nine weeks of art class I had in the eighth grade. In science I tend to cling to protocols. There are hard fast rules and they are comforting. I really had to adjust my expectations and realize that art is really experimental and it’s ok to mix a colors together and put them on canvas not really knowing what would happen. If I didn’t like it, the properties of acryllics would allow me to just paint over it. (Condolences in advance to the person who tries to teach me to paint with oil 😉

At the end of the night I had a decent attempt at the central flower and some underpainted floral stems. My outlook wasn’t exactly bright and cheery but I was determined to finish the project. After a good night’s sleep, I really didn’t think my flower looked quite so pitiful. I went to Michael’s and acquired some basic paints and value priced brushes to cement my determination and that night I happily and cheerily painted away. I was so much more comfortable the second night. When I finally stopped just before midnight, I was actually surprised to feel slightly pleased with my first attempt at painting with acrylics.

20110718-082312.jpg A bit more work to be done on the background, but I’ll take it.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. D3Z
    Jul 19, 2011 @ 16:10:52

    I am so excited that you have finished the painting and ending on a positive experience! I can’t wait to see the next painting you do!!


  2. D3Z
    Jul 19, 2011 @ 16:12:38

    Oh…and I (and I’m sure Staci as well) am honored to tackle any creative task with you!…but just in case….would alcohol help take some of the edge….I’m thinking yes!


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