Challenges bring about change.

This post was previously published in January, 2017.

Change is needed for growth.  Artists and creatives embrace challenges because without them, we remain stagnant.

"If we go for the easy way, we never change." - Marina Abramović. Abramović is a performance artist who has stirred up controversy in her shows at art galleries around the world.

I can't say I agree with everything she believes, but there is some truth in the way we deal with change in our personal and professional, or artistic, lives.

Butterfly Kisses - Mixed Media portrait on 11X15" Canson Watercolour Paper

Butterfly Kisses - Mixed Media portrait on 11X15" Canson Watercolour Paper. This is my second attempt with this technique.

This post is all about listening and being patient and also learning to change as an artist.

The end result is "Butterfly Kisses" above.  Even though I can see all my errors, I am posting her because the process I went through to get her finished taught me a few important lessons, one of them being....gasp!  that I don't follow instructions.

I can hear my friends laughing.  They know not to ask for a recipe because I seldom follow recipes to the letter.

And hubby will add that I never follow instructions if I have to assemble anything.

So there you have it.  Why should it be any different with art?

Two attempts to achieve better results

I don't usually publish two attempts at one technique within the same post.  But for the purposes of demonstrating that I wasn't listening to the instructor, I need you to see the difference between two paintings following the same lesson and instructor.

Glazing allows for different layers to show through in the final painting. All the colours in the above portrait were achieved through many layers of glazing.

The instructor demonstrated the technique and used the word "subtle" many times. She also emphasized that the charcoal in the initial sketches should be applied lightly.

However, those words just didn't register with me as I proceeded to outline and shade and paint the portrait below.

So when did I realise that I had gone down the wrong path?

Come out of the Shadows - mixed media on Canson 11X15 watercolour paper

Come out of the Shadows - mixed media on Canson 11X15 watercolour paper. This was my first attempt using a new technique.

It's quite obvious to see that there is nothing subtle about this painting.

I began to suspect there might be something wrong when it took many coats of fixative before the charcoal was set (photo below) and I was able to begin the glazing process.

Notice the heavy hand right from the get go. Looking back, I should have stopped right there and then, and just left her as a charcoal portrait.

Even though I knew there was something not quite right, I really didn't get it until I went through the whole lesson a second time.

But as they say, live and learn. Sometimes, the best kind of learning occurs when mistakes are made and one has to start over.

overworked portrait before glazing was applied

Progress come with practice and time

However, if I look back to earlier paintings, and especially to a portrait painted under the guidance of this same instructor, I can see that I have progressed quite a bit in one year.

The portrait below was painted using some of the same techniques without the glazing. The colour was applied with pastels.

I can definitely see improvement from this one below to the first portrait of this post.

And that's the beauty of facing various types of challenges.  They force change upon us and make us better for having persevered.

What have been your creative or other challenges in this last year?

2016 portrait - mixed media

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