Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Yips

When most people hear about the yips, they either think about sports or TV shows that have an episode based around the yips (Psych, How I Met Your Mother).  Who knew that artists could suffer from this affliction as well?  Wikipedia, the most reliable website on the Internet (when are they going to invent a sarcasm font?!), defines yips thusly*:

"Yips or the yips is an expression used to describe the apparent loss of certain fine motor skills seemingly without explanation in one of a number of different sports."

Well, I'm just going to have to log on and change their definition to include painting, because I've got a bad case.  I've heard people talk about the yips as sometimes happening due to increased pressure - a big game coming up, a lot of things riding on a match, etc.  For me, I think it's my impending Graduate Thesis Exhibition (Opening on November 21st with my defense on the 29th) that has brought on this case.

I seem to be unable to mix the right colors, get the right effects, or generally make my paintings look the way that I want them to.  Increased pressure led to increased stress, which led to my mad painting skillz defenestrating*.

But not to worry, I have a plan.  It will involve some abstract painting, chocolate chip cookies, swimming laps, finger exercises (a la Pete & Pete, when the Petes' Dad was trying to get his fingers to fit in the bowling ball, Rolling Thunder, again), meditation, and possibly carbo-loading.  But not all at once.  And probably not carbo-loading.

I'll let you know how things go.  In the mean time, I'd appreciate any prayers, good thoughts, or chocolate chip cookies you wanted to send my way!  But mostly the prayers and good thoughts.  And the chocolate chip cookies.

*I may have the Painting Yips, but my ability to use ridiculous words has increased forthwith. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Artist's Corner: Watercolor Tips and Tricks

 As most of my readers know, I'm an artist and an art teacher.  While I've recently transitioned into doing a little more oil painting, my true love has always been watercolor.  A couple of weeks ago I taught the kids in one of my classes some tricks you can do with watercolor to create really cool effects! You can use these to create texture in pictures by layering overtop of them, or do an abstract painting using the techniques alone (I'll include some of my students' finished abstract paintings at the bottom).  
The great thing about these techniques is that they're all done with things that most people have around the house!  Below are pictures of the techniques and descriptions of how to do them.
Crumple up and flatten out a piece of aluminum foil, then
put it on top of wet paint (you may need to put something
on top of it to hold it down).  

Put cheesecloth on top of wet paper (or wet paint), then
put more paint back overtop of it.  The amount of time
you leave the cheesecloth on will determine the effect
you get (try out different drying times).

Crumple up plastic wrap and flatten it down
over wet paint; this one will also differ
depending on how long you leave it on the paint
(the longer you leave it, the sharper the edges
will be).

This one is the most well-known!  Sprinkle salt over wet paint
to get a cool snowflake effect!  Try different types of salt - table,
rock, kosher, pretzel, etc.

Drop rubbing alcohol on wet paint to make
this bubble-like effect.

Blow wet paint around your paper with
a drinking straw!

Tape off shapes with masking (or
painter's) tape, then peel up the
tape after the paint is dry.

Crayons create a wax resist (as do candles).  Draw with
white crayons (like you do with Easter eggs!) or colored
crayons, and then paint over them.
Tear small shapes out of wax paper, and place them over wet
paint; then bleed other colors around the edges.  Peel up
when paint is dry.

These are the paintings that some of my students did.  (They added details with permanent markers after the paint dried.)
Sarah, age 11
Brianna, age 11
Micaela, age 11

One last tip before you go grab your painting supplies: the more water you add to your paints, the more vibrant your colors will be!  And if you really want to get nice color, go out and spend a few more bucks to get some Prang or slightly nicer watercolors.  (That's what my students used.)  The next thing you know, you'll be amazing your friends with your mad watercolor skills!  

If you do some paintings, please email me pictures!  I'd love to see what you do!