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Posts Tagged ‘Creative aging’

Another DVD I watch and absorb again and again is Taylor Ikin’s DANCING WITH YUPO.  This Florida-based fine artist’s (1 hour, 58 minute) tutorial has probably done as much, if not more, to free me up and send me painting on my way—as any other resource in my sizeable home library of books and DVDs.

The huge secret (but not REALLY a secret!) is Taylor Ikin’s use of YUPO® paper, which is actually not paper but rather a shiny washable plastic–coupled with her method of always standing and moving around* while working, and using totally-generous, extra-humungous amounts of paint mainly applied with a 2″ or larger square brush.

In her DVD Taylor Ikin depicts a downhill stream tumbling over rocks, with a forest in the background and lots of wild growth along the banks.  Taylor begins by spritzing the sheet of YUPO with her spray bottle of water, and applying thick brush loads of rich undiluted colors for woods, water, foliage, rocks, and botanical stuff along the forest floor and riverbanks.

Taylor slosh/slosh/sloshes with brilliant, juicy straight-from-the-tube watercolors abundantly slathered on her brush which has been dipped in a commodious bucket of water.  (I normally use marinara sauce jars large enough to accommodate my 4″ wash brush, and a gallon ice cream pail for my water supply—the pail for rinsing and letting the pigments settle on the bottom, and one or two of the glass jars for fresh clean water.)

Then with her clean wet brush, Taylor begins to delineate water from land, while creating chunky textural tree shapes in the background.  Next, the forest foliage and groundcover evolve.  With YUPO, this is super easy, as any swipe of a brush or paper towel brings the wet painting surface back to its original white and ready for more action.  (When the paint is dry, a wet brush or wet paper towel will restore the white.  And if unhappy with any stage of the process on YUPO, one may hold the piece under a gushing faucet or float it in a bathtub of water.)

When Taylor feels her initial rendering is satisfactory, she recommends letting the painting dry**, perhaps even overnight.  When dry, the work is ready for tweaking and fine-tuning:  as Taylor puts it, deciding “What will make this a better painting.”  Now is the time-consuming stage of lifting, re-applying the shapes in a different way, making new shapes, removing colors, adding new colors, standing and looking at the work from a distance, holding the painting sideways/upside down/and in a large mirror, etc.  (I sometimes tweak and fine-tune for hours over a period of days, or even a couple of weeks.  My YUPO paintings usually consume more time than those on Arches 140# rag paper, because the YUPOs provide flexibility and so many more options.)

I have read books and watched tutorials by other YUPO artists, and quite frankly I have not warmed up to their work.  Excellently crafted, but simply not what I would want to hang on my walls.  But Taylor Ikin’s work has that magical quality to which I am inexorably drawn. Try GOOGLING her, and maybe you will be drawn as well.

YUPO is the perfect ground for the abstract realism style that I love.  It is perhaps the easiest surface for beginning painters to use because (unless you desire to create detailed, representational art that resembles a photograph) YUPO is encouragingly NO-FAIL  Every blob and drip of paint that blends with other drips and blobs will be beautiful.  A few quick blasts of diverse colors on wet YUPO are often “suitable for framing”.  But when more painstaking hours are invested, the rewards are even more incredibly satisfying.

One can play forever, with just one sheet of YUPO, painting and rinsing off the paint, experimenting with colors and brushstrokes.  Or finger strokes.  I have rediscovered the joy of finger painting, due to the fact that I have long hair and lots of it.  Frequently I spy a wisp of my hair in a work in progress. I dislike hair in a painting almost as much as I hate to find it in my food!  In the process of removing a hair with my pinky, gorgeous swirls will surface on YUPO.

Texture is easily achieved on YUPO—either by the application of modeling paste to make mountains, rocks, and tree trunks, or by dribbling texture medium onto the painted surface.  Salt and cling film (plastic food wrap) build texture as well.

The acrylic inks are vibrant on YUPO paper.  Another favorite technique is the slathering of gouache over water-colored areas.  The gouache may be built up impasto, to fashion floral still lifes or wild landscapes, while looking amazingly like oil paint.  I always spray my finished YUPO paintings with an acrylic fixative; this not only prevents smudging and smearing paint forever, but the fixative makes a lovely shine (although matt fixatives may be used if so desired).  Also, the acrylic spray will prevent the impasto gouache areas from flaking.

Thank you, Taylor Ikin, for your continual inspiration from DANCING WITH YUPO!  I have always loved to dance!  🙂  Here is a fresh off-the-messy-palette YUPO piece by moi.  It is titled “Irides”.  I can’t stop painting irides.  Although I’m certainly not to be compared with Monet (YIKES!) that master and I do have something in common:  repetition of a beloved subject.  Monet did haystacks and water lilies among other topics.  I do irides, along with woods, mountains, etc.  What a good life!

more-irides

Margaret L Been — February 25th, 2017

*Standing and moving around are the way to go, for me, as I have chronic orthopedic pain for which constant movement is the best medicine.  The pain ramps up greatly at night when I am lying in bed.  Rather than lie there and hurt (that would be STUPID!) I get up and move around our home—yes and sometimes dance, to the waltzes of Erik Satie as well as WITH YUPO.  🙂

**I am not a fan of drying paintings with a hair dryer, and rarely do this.  But once I tried it on a YUPO piece.  Not good!  Too much heat, too close to the painting ground and voilà—shriveled-up art.

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C'est . . . .

As Joe and I, and our son Eric walked out of our Monday-night-$6.00-hamburger-restaurant, I scanned the crowded block searching for Eric’s car—and I finally gave up.  Where was Eric’s car?  The long chain of sedans looked all alike to me:  black and white and shades of grey.

“Why are they doing this to us?” I asked Eric who, as a car person, is far more interested in engines than color?  “That’s what the manufacturers think buyers want,” he replied.  And it dawned on me that, in some ways, we live in a comparatively colorless era.

It wasn’t always like that.  Born in the Great Depression, I nonetheless grew up surrounded by color—not only in my parents’ flower garden but in the clothes we wore.  THE WIZARD OF OZ sported a “horse of a different color”.  And Rhett Butler uttered his famous, blasphemous one-liner at the conclusion of a lengthy, super-colorful Hollywood spectacular.

Throughout the 1940s, color ruled*—both in fashion glitz and down home.  The 50s produced the most wonderful lime green, aqua blue, and gold refrigerators—along with a vibrant palette of everything else.  The 60s and 70s wore a lot of orange and gold, along with what I call “Hippie brown”—that mellow shade of soybean fields in late autumn.  And from 1950 at least through the 1970s, the cars were drop dead gorgeous—streamlined gorgeous, unlike many of the butt-ugly new boxes on the road today!

In the 90s all colors prevailed, with kind of a hokey emphasis on pink and blue in family restaurant décor along with geese or ducks parading on wallpaper borders.  But yes, color.  And in the 2000s, Joe and I lived in yet another colorful home in the ever-colorful Wisconsin north woods where even the 7 or 8 months of winter are brilliant with turquoise sky, lots of red dogwood branches, and bluish-purple shadows on snow.

So what is with these depressive car manufacturers?  Do their stats show that buyers really want black and white and shades of grey?  Or are the manufacturers simply watching too much news?

Even if the news were to blame, wouldn’t a large dose of stunning bright paint at least improve the quality of the moment for the driver and passengers in the car—not to mention those viewers surveying a parking area while trying to decide which car belongs to their son?

Meanwhile, throughout history art has come in every color imaginable—as well as in monotones and beautiful subdued tones.  But I don’t think you’ll ever find me painting black and white and shades of grey.  Oh, no!

*Color notwithstanding, in the 40s right up to now the long black velvet gown was and still is CLASSY!

Margaret L. Been — October 8, 2015

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I was delighted when someone commented that my art expresses “energy”—so delighted that I painted the above watercolor and titled it “Energy”.  But I was also mystified.  I really don’t think I have much energy!  (For more of my personal energy crisis and health related subjects see http://richesinglory.wordpress.com/ )

How wonderful to know that there is a soul and spirit energy which has nothing to do with whatever is going on in our bodies!  Soul and spirit are the grist of life, and the attributes thereof can carry us as long as we live—if we maintain our priorities and focus!

Within the confinements of age and incapacitating illness the great French painter, Matisse (1869-1954), continued expressing his soul energy in cut paper collages—right up until his death in 1954. 

Art history contains examples of artists who went on working, although at a less intense level, after they became partially blind.  Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) is an inspiring example.  Per Wikipedia, “In 1972, O’Keeffe’s eyesight was compromised by macular degeneration, leading to the loss of central vision and leaving her with only periphial vision. She stopped oil painting without assistance in 1972, but continued working in pencil and charcoal until 1984.”

I believe that the older we get, the more we need an intense passion in life—and at least one creative activity that we can take with us wherever we go.  I spent about one-third of the days and nights from September, 2010 until June, 2011 at a nearby hospital.  Several of these occasions involved surgery and recovery for me.  But most of the days and nights were spent camping in my husband’s hospital room, where he underwent a number of serious leg surgeries and heart procedures. 

These times were productive for me.  My knitting and art supplies were ever at my side, along with a few books.  I slept on a futon in Joe’s hospital room, and kept my stuff on my own little corner table by the big windows.  In the daytime, I knitted and read—and many a night I sketched and painted at my little table before going to sleep to the sound of dripping IVs and clicking computer monitors hooked up to my man.  Joe and I were together, and God gave me peace in the midst of these storms.  My lack of physical energy was compensated, and my mind was challenged, by producing colorful art in yarn and on paper.

Energy!  The less we think we have, the more we may have welling up inside—just waiting for some creative venue of expression!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

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