M I N D / B O D Y / S O U L / S P I R I T Encouragement
How is your third week of 2024 going? We are looking for the positive results of new habits, and I still feel the struggles of so many: struggles with work, resources, the passings of elders. Life is a garden. The new seedlings come up. And we must groom away dead stalks and leaves. And yet, this year I learned a good gardener keeps her soil covered; the dead leaves create mulch for new plants. Our elders leave us with love, advice and a richer “soil” in which to grow.
This week I heard a wonderful new term used by Yoga With Adriene, “constructive rest.” I like the parallel implications of the term constructive rest. We must create or construct the time, place and a habit for rest and restful attitudes to create a healthy life, body and artistic practice. The artistic practice, whether it is visual arts, dance, writing, drama, music - contributes to good health. We are created as creative beings!
Constructive rest is a term taken from the Alexander technique which allows the release of lower back tension. The Alexander Technique was originally developed by Frederick Matthias Alexander to address a voice loss during public speaking. He credited his method with allowing him to pursue his passion for reciting Shakespeare. Alan Rickman was a well-known proponent of the method. Mosaic artist and blogger, Margaret Almon, advocates using constructive rest for artists in https://www.margaretalmon.com/taking-time-to-rest-alexander-techniques-constructive-rest-as-a-way-to-release-tensions-for-the-artist-at-work/
Painting, writing and creating an attractive living environment is like breathing to me. Creating beauty also implies beauty in attitude and kindness toward others.
Does it mean I’m never untidy? Art, studios, writing desks can be messy places—but they are nurturing garden beds for beauty.
On that note – I offer encouragement. I have been asked to share more about my personal painting techniques.
Each small tidbit I share is part of the whole. For the past three years I have met via Zoom which began as an art workshop.
Using, playing and experimenting with paint has brought more joy than anticipated. Each step takes time...time to nurture habits and construct a restful place. Personal connections of a small group make it a highlight of our schedules.
Since 2020, we have studied various painters and drawing techniques, shared ideas and resources and encouraged one another.
Last week I suggested you set an intention when you attend a painting workshop or begin a creative project.
This week’s focus is getting to know acrylic paint. What do you know?
Although I use many mediums, I am attracted to acrylic paint, partly because I am impatient, and they dry quickly on many surfaces. During the 1960s, when my artist mother discovered acrylics, she went wild! She could paint many surfaces and soon leather wood, metal and papier mâché acquired new coats of acrylic paint. I completed a number of school projects using the versatile acrylic paints.
When I teach a short workshop, I introduce 3 essentials: acrylic paint fundamentals, simple color mixing and composition tricks.
This week’s spotlight is paint and supplies.
1. Mixes/cleans up with water
2. Mediums help increase the flow of the paint
3. Quick drying
4. Layers can be applied directly over each other
5. Permanent on fabric, clothing
6. Acrylic paint applies lighter and will dry darker
7. Less toxic than many other paints
I often provide all materials for ½ day classes. However, you want to learn more, and invest in acrylic paints (or any paint!) I offer my recommendations.
My next in-person workshop at Cactus Mart will be Saturday April 6th. More information soon!
For more information on the chemical composition of acrylic paint, listen to my YouTube Video.
Acrylic paint comes in tubes, jars, cans and even pens. Many brands offer adequate student quality paints. For my own use, I prefer professional quality and generally turn to Golden or Liquitex brands. One can use a plastic or paper plate as a palette—but if you want to preserve your paint longer on the palette and are interested in investing in paints and a wider variety of color, you may want to acquire a Masterson Sta-wet Palette. In the desert, my palette with the lid on, will keep paints moist for about two weeks! I honestly did not believe this was possible and tried a friend’s Sta-wet palette. This was a game changer for me. The palette is basically a plastic box, rather like a Tupperware container, with a specially designed sponge and polyacrylic paper. Oh, I have tried various kinds of paper and parchment, and none works as well.
Paint medium, a whitish or clear liquid substance, helps to increase the flow of the paint. Mediums are available in a variety - gloss, matte, textured, slow drying. I prefer Golden Fluid Matte Medium or Liquitex Matte Medium.
Acrylic brushes are designed to work best with acrylic paints and the number one tip is NOT to allow paint to dry on a brush! It is better to leave your brush in the water cup (as perhaps as you were told never to do!) than to allow it to dry out. To clean up, I use a scrub brush to remove the paint from the bristles and metal part of the brush and run it under water until the water is clear. Paint left in the bristles will dry and ruin your brush. Brush cleaning solutions are available, but I most often use tap water.
I personally like a flat or what is called a Brite brush and prefer sizes #4, #6, #8 and larger. I hide the tiny brushes from my students. Using a larger brush will help to loosen up.
Here is my YouTube showing how to place colors on your palette.
While there is no one to lay out a palette, my most important advice is to create a plan that you prefer and do it the same way each time so you automatically can find a color. I begin with the lightest yellow at the top left of my palette progress from orange reds to quinacridone magenta in the top right corner. I place blues down the right side toward green. I place my white in a larger blob in the middle. And I will often put yellow ochre directly under the lightest yellow on the left side. I rarely use browns or black. I prefer to mix these shades myself and teach my students how to do this. Browns can vary and I prefer my own mixtures.
Materials list – or WHAT YOU HAVE AVAILABLE!
To begin painting I suggest you gather items such as:
Small Sketchbook 5”x 7” or 8” x 10”
Graphite Pencils - soft drawing pencils (4B, 6B) or inexpensive mechanical pencils
Pastel pencils - green, brown, gray, blue or red-orange (1-2)
Brushes – Brite or Flat sizes #4, #6, #8 and larger brushes you like
Acrylic medium (recommended Golden Fluid Matte Medium or Liquitex Matte Medium)
Palette – small (8 ½ x 7”) or large (12” x 16”) recommended Masterson’s Sta-wet Palette + Sta-Wet acrylic palette paper+cellulose sponge
Painting surfaces: canvas, clayboard or gessoed Masonite panels – close to 11” x 14”
Drawing board with clips or easel
1. Cadmium Yellow Medium
2. Cadmium orange
3. Cadmium Red Medium
4. Magenta (Golden)
5. Ultramarine Blue
6. Cobalt Blue
7. Phthalo Blue
8. Yellow Ochre
9. Titanium White
1. Cerulean Blue
2. Unbleached Titanium
3. Cadmium Red Light
4. Colors you like
I have blogged for a number of years, and I began my encouragement theme during 2020! I selected words that begin with each letter in E-N-C-O-U-R-A-G-E and used them as a springboard each month. (All are available at my website janiscommentz.com/blog))
I share with you a portion of “Cultivate a Sense of PLAY” which you can read in entirety at https://www.janiscommentz.com/blog/archives/05-2020
“I have found that I am happiest when I have a project -- preferably a creative one! And I hope that during this unparalleled time, you are finding projects to keep you not only occupied but fulfilled.
Last month I offered tips to nurture creativity.
Nurture creativity in yourself and others:
Look for beauty in everyday objects and nature.
Write in a journal - your observations and your reactions.
Organize and sort your supplies.
Study a new subject: I’m studying French with a free ap.
Rekindle an old hobby.
When you get a creative idea - go with it!
Do not fear opinions of others or your own inner critic.
If you are in the Joshua Tree area, I invite you to attend the opening Saturday, January 20, for a new exhibit “History of Joshua Tree” at Joshua Tree National Park Association West, 55922 29 Palms Hwy, Yucca Valley. I am among 16 artists showing work: Cher Townsend, Christine Huhn, Doug Dolde, Jackie Rangel, Janis Commentz, Joe Alvarez, Joseph Grabianowski, Julianne Elliott, Kerry Clark, Lucas Guevara, Paul Ivanushka, Raven Skye, Rebecca French, Reilly Powell, Rik Verlin Livingston, Sherri Scott
Top right: Joshua Trees with Rusty Hills - Janis Commentz 11x14 acrylic
Bottom: Rebirth After the Fire - Janis Commentz 20 x 20 acrylic; Storm Over Jumbo Rocks - Janis Commentz 18 x18 acrylic
Inspired by all of you,