loose and lovely

Tuesday, 3 November 2015


This past weekend, I was inspired (as I always am) by my gorgeous friend Jen Storer's latest Baxter Street post. It contained art, humour, bunnies, haystacks, daleks and cinnamon toast (or dreamings of cinnamon toast)--what more could you possibly crave??

But it also contained a video on painting lovely loose artworks that I soooo admire and drool over, but never have the courage to produce. Jen produced one--and it's beyond lovely.

I have a relatively controlled style of illustrating--neat, tidy, planned. How I yearn to hold a pencil a centimetre from the end in that achingly nonchalant way, and flick it across a page. Or press really, really hard on a graphite pencil. Or use colour in a way that looks like smeared rainbows. Wrong colour. Out-there colour. How I crave to see purple and turquoise in shadows and yellow and rose in midtones.

So, I took up the self-imposed challenge and followed along this Mindy Lacefield video 'playing with caran d'ache'. Mindy's illustrations typify that utterly unfettered, loose, whimsical style that makes the breath flutter. So I gave it a go. And here is what happened ... (please excuse the cruddy low-light photos):

A light sketch with a watercolour pencil. I still think this is too controlled, but ah well ... I'll keep practising.

A gentle wash over the lines with a wet brush. Not looking too bad.

This is where things get interesting. Stricken with mild panic, and a flashback to an old aunt and her commit-me-now makeup routine, I take deep breaths over my candy-coloured splotch girl, and reach for the wet brush.

Surprisingly better. Thank you, water. I stop myself from blending to within an inch of the dear girl's life and just 'let things be'. I add a little background stuff in a tres random way and then I LET GO.

I grab a white texta and add a few popping highlights. The texta pools on her cheek so I rush at it with my finger and make it worse. Then I slap my own hand and I ... LEAVE IT! (I can hear your gasp from here!)

I'm done. I try not to hone in on the fact that it was me who did this. If someone else had done it, I might actually like it very much. Interesting, non?

And PS: I want her hairstyle.

Will be interesting to see where this sort of freestyle creating leads. Creating it was like standing in the kitchen in front of the closed laundry door, prepping myself to do a handstand against it. I try to do this every day, if I can. It's monumentally scary because I'm no longer twelve and one day I might snap a vertebrae or my arms might give way and I'll land on my head, crack it open and candy will fall out ... but I figure that so long as I continue to do it, two things are absolutely true:

a) I'm still young
b) I've got some pretty solid chutzpah
c) optional: I'm completely crazy

Go smear some rainbows!!

1 comment:

jen storer said...

Laughing my candy-filled head off! Great post!! Every time someone gets inspired by Baxter Street I feel encouraged to take more risks. Yours is a timely post because I've been wobbling big time about sharing my 'art'. Oh, it makes me cringe. So, thank you, dear Tania. Love your pretty, sunshiny-rainbow girl, too. Is it a self-portrait, do you think?? Jxxoo

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