The first time I put brush to canvas

I started drawing with frequency when I was about five years old, usually around themes of space ships, Star Wars, Star Wars space ships, or the occasional World War II aerial dogfight (we watched a lot of this when I was growing up).  Samples from each of those “themes” may appear indistinguishable to the untrained eye.  🙂  In high school I took some sketching classes and continued thereafter to sketch.  About the time I was in college I tired of sketchy shades of gray, discovered watercolor markers, and began to abstract.  Looking back on those now, I still think some of them are pretty good.  After a hiatus of a few years when I did no art — I’d graduated, gotten a job and moved out into the “real world”  — I decided that had been a stupid idea and began casting about for a new creative outlet.  I noticed I was sitting in front of a computer a lot and finally decided just to use the tools at hand, which was mainly Microsoft Paint, yes — the one under Accessories in your Start menu, though it was called “Paintbrush” back then.  After a few years of making art with my computer, I decided in 2008 that I really should try painting:

My First painting, "Arrival"

Arrival, acrylic on 10" x 8" canvasboard, January 2008

Yes, that is the tiny canvasboard that came with the acrylic starter kit — like I was going to paint “The Old Mill” — ppfffttt!!!  This is the result of the first time I ever put brush to paint to canvas (there is a weird blue shape under what you see here, painted over).  In this painting I was experimenting with gradations and highlights and  dots (already!), in addition to painting in general.  Depicted is the arrival and initial investigations of aliens at an interesting planet.  The blue thing is an atmospheric probe being deployed.  I think the silver and orange thing is part of the ship we (the aliens) are in.  The red and yellow ring is an instrument representing the green rivers or fissures in false color.

The next few things I tried to paint were false starts.  One failed so hard it became the canvas I use to try things out on.  This is noted at right as the one painting ‘abandoned with harsh words’.


My next successful painting was two and a half years later in June 2010, inspired again by a trip to the Indianapolis Museum of Art:

Order and Chaos, acrylic on 11" x 14" canvasboard

Order and Chaos, acrylic on 11" x 14" canvasboard

Here I’m playing with the division of space and experimenting with the palette knife.  It’s called “Order and Chaos”.  ‘Order’ is the very ruly and sedate blues and gold around the outside, and ‘Chaos’ is the bright, exciting colors in the yellow field.  Like teenagers to authority figures, chaos mocks order, and yet is nonetheless contained and restrained by it.

Then I did this one, and finally decided I should take a class about this painting stuff.  Just messing around with it on my own, I had missed a few key points about how to work with the media that made it pretty frustrating.  Oh, like using water.  But that is a subject for another post

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “The first time I put brush to canvas

  1. Jim

    I used to sketch in high school, too. My muse was every boring teacher.

  2. Hrm. Interesting bit of personal history there for you. You’ve come a long way, though the first one in this post already seems to lean towards detailed. Those cracks look rather annoying to construct. 🙂

    • Yeah, I seem to tend towards detail, and crisp, careful lines. I have actually difficulty painting in a freer, looser way, which seems strange to me. Why would it be harder to paint *less* carefully? Can’t seem to bring myself to do it. 🙂 You can see this in Andlega Landsalgi https://zorgor.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/painting-andlega-landslagi/ (did you ever crack the name btw?) It started out free and loose with the blues and greens around the outside, and ended up crisp and careful, with the reds and yellows.
      The cracks are all over the planet yeah, but this is a really small canvas. There really isn’t that much of that. The cracks weren’t tedious at all really. What was tedious was the brown spots/dashes… I couldn’t get them as squared and crisp as I wanted, not as much as I’d gotten used to getting for free with digital art…

  3. I love this post. Sometimes I think if I had actually taken some classes, my eye would be better — have more knowledge about it Your first painting is much better than what I did when I got back into it. I love how it seems happy with the way your composed it with a smile. Cool textures too.

    • Oh my God. Did you hear my hand just slap my forehead all the way out there in Santa Fe? *I never noticed that*. It is smiling at ya… I cannot believe I never noticed that. This — this right here — is why I need a blog for my paintings!! Wow. My mind is blown. Honestly. I am not being sarcastic at all. Wow.

      Let me collect myself for a mo. Ok. Breathe in, breathe out. Again. Yes, I would recommend taking a class, just at a community college or something. Don’t spend too much or worry about whether credits will transfer or whatever. I too am mostly self-taught in these endeavors. I have found — also with software tools I use professionally and am also self-taught in — that taking a class after mostly figuring it out yourself, can fill in a lot of gaps in your knowledge, as well as confirm what you had figured out correctly on your own. Sometimes it can fill in *big* gaps. Like how I was only using water to clean brushes, instead of to make the paint easier to work with. The photographic equivalent of that may be it having never occurred to change the aperture setting… You can still take photos and learn to work around a limitation/blind spot like that, but it’s more difficult.

      Anyway, I’m glad you liked this! 🙂

I'd love to hear your thoughts and interpretations! Your comments and likes are what keep the paintings and posts coming. :)

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