Tuesday, March 20, 2012

thoughts on painting and the process

People sometimes ask me about the girls that I paint.

Are they supposed to be you, Julie?
Do you just trace them?
Can you paint me one, Julie?
Did you find that on Pinterest?

The truth is that a few years ago, I started reading Kelly Rae Roberts' book, Taking Flight, and it inspired me so much, but not for the reasons one would think. It inspired me to BE BRAVE ENOUGH TO JUST BE MYSELF, which, at the time, was something that I was struggling with significantly - my self worth. Also, I wanted to learn some of the techniques that she shows in the book. I've never thought of myself as an "artist" because to be an "artist" you have to be able to draw or do something else "artistic", right? My mother can draw anything or paint anything. I remember sitting beside her when I was younger and watching her draw or paint and wondering to myself, "how does she do that?" It fascinated me. At that time, I was just scrapbooking and doing "crafty" things, but I never thought that any of that translated into "art". 

Fast forward several years and although I don't say, "hey, I'm an artist," I do have different views about "art" in general. I think that just playing around with art supplies is fun. That's why I started an art journal. Not to label myself, but, instead, to play and learn and do. Plus, getting my hands messy and my table covered in paint, paper, glue, and other random bits and pieces just makes my heart happy!

I have just started painting. Self taught, and I don't think I'm that great. But that's not the point for me. The point is that I just love the act of painting and drawing and moving the paper around the canvas. Painting a girl just seemed natural to me. They aren't supposed to be me, but I do feel as if parts of myself come out in the expression of what I'm painting. There are other things I've been interested in painting that aren't girls, but every time I sit down to paint, I'm drawing another face. No, I don't trace them. No, I don't find them on Pinterest. The internet is full of inspiration and ideas and I run across images all the time, but the girls I paint are just that...girls that *I* paint. I don't really feel as if I've found my style just yet, but that's why I play...in order to find it. 

So, how do I start playing? 

Usually, I begin with a blank canvas and randomly attach papers to it. I use gel medium in matte to do this. These are papers that I have used on other scrapbooking projects. When I have scraps, I organize them, by color, in a large bin that I have in my art room. I don't really have a process here, I just grab what looks fun and inspiring at the moment.

Next, I paint my background. On this, I used different acrylic paints. I painted on some bubble wrap and put it on part of the canvas and ripped it back off. I sprayed it with some mist that April had at the retreat. I just played. 

I then draw my person. This girl does favor me in that her hair looks like mine. I liked that when I drew her, one of the punched hearts was on her arm. I take advantage of that later. Also, one of the pieces of paper that I used "make everyday beautiful" was going to be the words for the canvas. After I draw the figure, I paint and then shade and paint and shade, etc. and so forth until it looks "right" to me. I've drawn and painted girls and painted right over the top of them before. I just mess with it until I like it. Really scientific, right?

I finish by adding the little details and spraying the canvas with a fixative. We gave this canvas away at the retreat.

So, that's my process. This canvas took me a couple of hours from start to finish. I have some that take me days because I can't get into a groove. Again, I'm just self-taught. I've never taken a formal art class. I just like to play and experiment with different paints and mediums. It's fun to me. Now, go do something arty and make today beautiful! 


  1. I LOVE your girls! Wait, that didn't sound right. I love the girls you paint. Even the ones you paint over and over again to make them extra pretty on the inside. I can't wait to one day have one in my crib! Love you beautiful lady!

  2. lovely post Julie! I am anxious to try your technique with the paper on canvas and just playing with art supplies makes me happy too!

  3. Loved your canvas at the retreat! Wanted to win it, but didn't. You are talented! maybe i will try to make my own!! :-)

  4. Love how your happiness just explodes forth on your canvas!! Continue to be yourself and continue to shine.

  5. loved looking at your process. i just downloaded Taking Flight - i hope it inspires me as it did you!