Over the past seven years, I’ve accumulated a sizable library of art books and DVDs—some to which I refer constantly, year after year, and some that I shelve or give away after a couple of readings or viewings. Certain qualificatons are common to those resources which I keep for reviewing: 1) My “keepers” are more focused on the history and various philosophies of art than on one person’s step by step “How To” instructions; 2) The resources I treasure are normally not into strictly accurate photo-realism; and 3) Artists which resonate with me are those with an ”art value system” similar to mine.
None of the above criteria are intended as a judgment of skill or the lack of it. Obviously, most artists and instructors who have authored books and DVDs are vastly talented, experienced, and professional—far beyond any level which I will ever hope to achieve. Rather, my choices of keepers as opposed to non-keepers deal with personal preferences and (I have to admit) a wee bit of subjective prejudice.
The hot-off-the-palette painting pictured here is a case in point concerning my #3 qualification per the factor of art value system. A recently purchased DVD provided a demonstration of painting breathtakingly beautiful rushing rivers and textured rocks. I ordered this disc because I love rivers and rocks. Along with trees, mountains, sunsets, flowers, and fruit, rivers and rocks are about as representational as I get—and I do not represent any of these very accurately.
I learned a lot about creating texture from the case-in-point DVD, and will probably play it again; however one detail presented by the artist placed the demonstration outside (or at least on the fringes of) my art value system. To paraphrase, the artist said, “Beware of critters that tend to surface when you are painting with watercolors on a wet surface. Go over your work carefully to make sure that no critters have appeared—and if they have, be sure to paint them out.”
Okay, I thought! Here we part ways. I love critters, both real and imaginery, and one of the many things I’m passionate about in artmaking is the tendency of critters to appear on wet paper. Yes, I go over my work carefully while looking for critters. But I do not eradicate them; I capitalize on them—building upon them and, as in the above scenario, adding further definition.
Adding detail is especially easy on YUPO® paper, which I’ve used in this instance. The paint does not soak into the surface, as it would do on watercolor paper (which is not actually paper, but instead cotton or linen). While floating on the hard, shiny YUPO, paint is free to wander hither and thither—diffusing into nearby paint, doing its own thing, and frequently birthing critters which can be readily developed to maturity.
“The Keeper of the Cave”, as the star of this entry’s art is called, first materialized in the form of a long tail and a face. That’s all. But it wasn’t long before he (or she, but I think it’s a “he”) acquired ears and a lumpy body with a semblance of feet. One of his dishes was apparent immediately, before I went in and refined the painting. But I gave him another dish. Maybe one is for food and the other for water. Then there seem to be some gemstones in The Keeper’s cave, and also sunlight from an outside entrance—possibly positioned in front of the painting where you and I (the viewers) are sitting or standing. We’ll have to duck to one side so that we won’t block his sunlight.
My husband thinks this painting is “a little weird”, and you may as well. That’s okay. But I really like it. I think the critter is rather sweet. He’s a Keeper!