This holiday season brought a lot of firsts for me, art-wise.
Back in 2015, my brother Jared helped me stumble onto wildlife painting–a passion I didn’t know I had–when he requested a painting of an Alaskan black bear:
I should’ve realized I would love wildlife as a subject matter, since my father fostered within me his love of the wild. But self-awareness is totally over-rated, right?
Fast-forward to 2018, and I’m turning my attention to a Christmas present for my other brother, Hunter. This project marked three firsts, two of which I’d heartily recommend. One not so much….
- Painting oceanic wildlife
- The use of masking fluid
- Cutting my own mats
I loved painting these underwater tableaus. As a surfer/swimmer/life-long water-lover, I’ve always been fascinated by the sea. I love its secrecy: its surface–tranquil or tumultuous–gives only the merest hint of all the life teeming below. A split-screen perspective proved the perfect way to display this. And of course, it made sense that Hunter would request this type of scene, as he’s a surfer/diver/spear-fisher extraordinaire.
The project also gave me an excuse to try my hand at masking fluid. A water-resistant goop, masking fluid can be applied to paper as a sort of paint shield; it keeps pigment from settling onto certain areas the artist wants to keep white. Using it allowed me to keep my sharks and sundry other fishies clean while I applied the background:
See how the paint beads up on the yellow muck, leaving the paper perfectly white once removed? Masking fluid smells like sewer rat, and painting it on is like painting with mucus, but I’m totally hooked. It worked like a dream, and forestalled the inevitable headache that comes with trying to carefully paint cobalt around all those tiny fins.
But the mat cutting…. 0 stars to that process! Don’t get me wrong: the right mat highlights a painting like nothing else. But it took my mom and me two days to finish them, with me planning and measuring and assessing and cutting and her holding down my straight-edge with all her weight so my hand-dandy mat cutter (yep, there’s a special tool for this) didn’t go skipping off at a janky angle.
At last, we acquired victory. And I’m glad to have had an excuse to learn a new skill. But I’m now a devotee of the pre-cut mats available at craft stores. I’ll happily throw $5-10 that way to avoid math!
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