Sunday, March 22, 2015

100 Paintings Challenge

An artist I've been Instagramming with for about six months, Kellee Wynne Conrad, came up with a pretty interesting challenge - paint 100 paintings in the same medium/style/subject matter/theme with no ending date.  I, along with about 200 other artists, including my studio mate Judith Levy, took up the challenge that began Mar 15th.

I had such a hard time deciding the medium and the subject.  It's not that I couldn't think of anything - on the contrary, I had so many ideas, I had a hard time narrowing them all down.   I've been wanting to experiment and play in two different areas:  food/flowers in acrylics and abstracts in watercolor.  I also have been wanting to do lots of small oil and cold wax abstracts.  I vacillated back and forth for several weeks and finally decided on the abstract watercolors after being inspired by one of my favorite artists that I also Instagram with, Christina Baker.  Her lovely abstract watercolors were the turning point in my decision.  She is primarily an acrylic abstract painter but has recently decided to give watercolor a go - and her experiments are gorgeous.

Another factor in my final decision was that I'd purchased a slew of watercolors and three palettes about two years ago after reading Joyce Washor's latest book on watercolors.  She is all about complimentary color palettes and listed all the colors she uses for each of the three complimentary palettes of yellow/purple, red/green and blue/orange.  So I figured after investing in these paints and having a big block of beautiful Aquarelle Arches watercolor paper collecting dust in my closet, that it was time to put it all to use!

I measured and cut the 12"x16" pieces of paper into four 6"x8" pieces so that they are ready to go.  Working small keeps costs down and saves time in painting as well.  The idea in a challenge like this is to create LOTS of work and keep moving and experimenting.  Using large sheets or canvases, makes each one too "precious" and tends to hold us back from really playing and taking chances.

Having all the paper in a nice stack ready to paint on means I won't procrastinate starting when I have a few minutes here and there.  I usually work four 6"x8" pieces at a time (one right after another) using one of the complimentary colors palettes.  Then the next four pieces are painted with the second palette and so on.  My first 12 paintings were done without taping down the paper and I didn't like how ruffled the paper got, so I've begun taping the paper to foam core to keep it from buckling as bad.  My friend Judith also told me that I can iron watercolor paper on the non-painted side to get it perfectly flat.  Brilliant!

Thus far, I've finished 24 paintings, so I'm one-fourth of the way there.  I try to put the color down and stop while it's fresh.  I learned the hard way on the third one below that overworking ruins the painting.  However, I came in with soft pastel in the "bad" spot and saved the piece to the point it's one of my favorites.

My plan is to mount these on 5"x7"x 2" deep cradled wood panels that are painted black.  Then finish them off with either cold wax or lacquer.  Using either of these finishing mediums means that the paintings don't have to be matted behind glass.  I would like to do all of them (depending on the cost) or a group of my favorites and submit them for a solo show somewhere.  I've researched lacquer over watercolor paper and can't find much about whether this is viable (i.e., won't ruin the painting).  If anyone knows whether this is possible, I'd love to hear from you.

Here are the first four paintings that were painted using the red/green palette:





Have you ever participated in a painting challenge?  If so, did you learn from it and did it make you a better artist?  Did you have some goals starting out to work toward?  What medium and subject matter did you choose to do? Let me hear from you!
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