Take Flight Series P.1

Last week I painted a few trial backgrounds in acrylic on recycled wine boxes, and this week after having decided how I liked the background I started on Painting 1 in my Take Flight Series. The chosen background is shown in the second picture. .

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I haven't yet decided if I will do different background colours or keep them to a similar theme. I'll see how I feel about it when I start the next one! 

Because I'm using oil paint for these birds, and also because of the way I want them to look, it's a much slower process than it would usually be as I have to wait between layers for the oil paint to dry. I feel like it's a good challenge for me in practicing patience! 

I painted the first layer of Painting 1 yesterday afternoon, and made a super quick time-lapse too. The first in this series is a flying Spotted Dove. You will see these little love birds hanging out together in your backyard or sitting on your house gutters. 

I'm excited to work on this painting, and I will have more to show soon! 

- Zoe

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Take Flight

I'm discovering more about myself and what it is I like - what I like to paint, who I like to spend time with, what gives me energy and lights me up. I have spent a lot of my life wondering how to please everyone else, hiding behind an exterior of "pleasantness" to avoid being perceived as too different. I now make an effort to live the life I want, but there's still so much of myself hidden beneath the surface which I'm afraid to reveal. 

And I'm talking about very mundane things here like the clothes I would really love to wear, or the way I speak to people, or how I express joy. I get caught up in "what would people think if I...." 

I had a conversation with a friend last week and we talked about dance and self expression, and choosing experiences which may be uncomfortable, but which also bring us joy and energy. I was so uncomfortable talking about dancing, even though I love it. I often crave dance and movement but I sometimes end up feeling embarrassed and avoid it. That's not always the case though, sometimes with my favorite trusted people I'll go a bit crazy. And I have taken on a challenge from my friend to try out a Dancing Freedom class!

Yes, I feel extremely uncomfortable even just writing that. 

I'm learning to say yes to more experiences which challenge and excite me, and a big NO to those which just don't resonate. 

So, part of this means taking on new projects to challenge myself. I have been a bit quiet on here lately. I did some brainstorming last week and asked myself "what do I love to paint?" I filled a giant piece of paper with scribbles about BIRDS, beautiful things from nature and animals.

OK so I really like painting birds, so I'm just going to paint more birds! 

My latest project is called Take Flight and is an exploration of how totally ordinary backyard birds are actually quite beautiful in there own way. In the same way I might hide parts of myself from people who aren't closest to me, these birds go unnoticed because they're not as flashy and beautiful as exotic birds. But if you stop and observe them, you will see their unique beauty, their specific melodic singing and be impressed by their "birdly skills". 

And also, even though I love hummingbirds, some of the other thousands of birds deserve some attention too! 

Take Flight

I've been inspired to create a series of oil and acrylic paintings on wood panels depicting ordinary backyard birds made spectacular. 

Wood and oil are both totally new mediums to me so right now I'm just trialing these ideas to see what works. I'll have some work to show you very soon! 

- Zoe

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Discovering Oil Painting

Seven weeks ago I decided I should stop thinking about trying oil painting, and START oil painting. 

I signed up for a 6 Week course with Visionary Artist Bonny Hut and started the course the following Monday. 

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, but I was excited to start. I had been gifted an awesome oil painting set for my birthday and despite already painting a lot in watercolour, I didn't know where to start by myself and was yet to even open one of the tubes of oil paint. 

The class offered all the basics I wanted to learn to move me from "I don't know if I'll do it right so I won't try" to "I have an idea, and it's OK if I get it wrong so I'll have a go!" We put theory to practice by recreating a portrait which I was a bit nervous about to begin with, but turns out I freaking love painting faces! This is the first time I have painted a face since I have a always chosen to draw/paint animals or plants etc.

I wanted to share the process from start to finish of my course, because I am a bit proud of my painting and I really loved this learning process. 

Week 1: In the first lesson we learnt about basic drawing, using grids and then shape placement (all done upside down to see the shapes rather then the eye or the nose or the mouth etc), and the base layer - no detail and very turps watered down paint for the beginning. Pretty much no idea what I was doing at this point, but loving it anyway! 

Week 2: Quantity over quality. Still painting upside down. Beginning the blending process and some detail.

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Week 3: Moving features into the correct position. You can see the markings on the original here of the relative proportions. I shortened her chin, made her head wider and moved her eyes. 

Week 4: In week 4 I decided I'd like to create an airbrushed look instead of the brushstrokes of the original painting, as this is actually easier. I used tiny amounts of white paint to highlight her cheeks, forehead and chin using the lightest circular brush strokes. I loved this lesson, this is where the painting started to pop off the canvas. I used purple and orange paint all over her face here too. I also started on the detail of her lips and one eye. 

Week 5: Final details, adding texture to her head scarf and extra shadows. At this point I thought I was finished, and then during the week I noticed a few things I wanted to change - right eyebrow and a little extra detail on the left eye. 

Week 6: Finished. I love this painting, mostly because it's my first ever portrait and I didn't know I could create anything like this, and also because of the slow, almost meditative process of each class which allowed me to progress to this final image. I was amazed that tiny amounts of paint could change the picture so much. 

Bonny advised that we shouldn't get attached to a painting, because in doing so we spend too much time trying to perfect it. By letting go of any attachment to the outcome you can enjoy the process completely, and then once it's done, move on to the next thing, and if you want to you can also just throw it away. 

I'm not going to throw this one away though, because it's a bit of a symbol for me to remind me that practice on a regular basis yields incredible results. It's the beginning of something so exciting for me, and I can't wait to learn and share more!

Closer detail - see the orange and purple? I'm hooked! I love oil. 

- Zoe 

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