I was so totally struck by the perfection of my infant children. It made me want to paint! I even wanted to sculpt their sweet faces in clay (I wonder if anyone can relate?). It is clear, even in just the blog world, that I am not the only one inspired by motherhood. I wanted to see what it was like to create something so beautiful. Not a perfectly rendered copy but I wanted to document what I saw and understand it deeper than you can from just seeing. The way taking notes helps you remember material from a lecture or book.
Their proportions are so cute. Their skin is so squishy soft and features so delicate. They way they position their bodies. I made lots of these paintings after work and on the weekends during a very productive time before becoming pregnant with my second.
I created a nice little portable and economical kit and process for myself. Portable because if you want to draw and paint from life you must do it where the action is! And economical because quality art supplies can be expensive! I can use it at home and take it with us anywhere!
Portable watercolor (gouache) studio
- An old tote-bag to keep everything in
- Several full sheets of hot pressed watercolor paper: I love the smooth finish! Currently Dick Blick has Arches 90lb full sheets for $4.79/each. I then cut them down to 5 1/2 X 7 1/2’s (works out to 30 cents a sheet). This is much cheaper than watercolor blocks and you won’t have to worry about wasting a sheet here and there.
- Small plastic portable palette: Mine is about 5 X 10 inches with a hinging lid and mixing trays. It also has a thumb hole for holding which is nice for a portable palette. Here is a similar one of nice quality (no hole though).
- Gouache set plus extra white: I like this set of 12 from Holbein. I use the gouache like watercolor but if I make a mistake or want to change something I have the option of building up the paint as opaque. I find Holbein to be a good value. I add the paint to the palette, let it dry out, and use it over and over! Some of the colors do tend to break up when dry. I cut a piece of cardboard which I sandwich in the palette as I am closing it which prevent the broken chunks of paint from escaping their wells. I think a custom cut piece from a foam tray would work even better. I have yet to find a watercolor palette with sealable wells!
- A clipboard for a work surface (or 2 so you can get started on a second while the first is drying).
- Drafting tape for taping down your paper; I add a full length piece on all 4 sides to keep the sheet from buckling. Drafting tape is a little less sticky than regular masking tape and won’t damage your paper.
- A small assortment of brushes and a large ziplock bag to keep them in: For as small as I work, I still use a pretty big brush. I like to work fast and a big brush allows you to do that. About 90% of the time I use a number 10 watercolor brush. I also have a 1 inch flat brush for washes, a number 6 for details, and a small number 1 just in case. Just make sure they are good quality! You want them to hold a lot of water and form and hold a nice point.
- An HB pencil with a eraser tip
- A plastic dish for water
- Some paper towels or reusable material for blotting (squares cut from an old t-shirt work great)
How I work…
First I tape a piece of paper on my clipboard. I do about a 5 minute drawing from life lightly with my pencil starting with the child. The environment can be pieced in after. It is best to catch small children while they are sitting and focused on quiet play. You will have to put up will small movements, maybe you get the head from one post and the arm from another but if you work fast you should be able to capture the overall gesture. Once you have your drawing you can take your time with the painting. I add a few drops of water to each well to reconstitute the paint. Then I simply color in my drawing! After that I add some simple shading and tone variation to creation depth. Then I let it dry on the clipboard to avoid buckles entirely.
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How has becoming a mother inspired you? Please share!