Ok, let me honest and upfront, I am not an artist! I am not and will never claim to be (insert nervous giggle here). But I do like to paint on occasion. I’ve never taken an art class in my life, just craft classes when I was a kid. But this past weekend the painting bug bit and I had to paint.
I wanted to do something fall-ish to change up my mantel. There was a place in the woods where I grew up on my grandparents’ farm that was the inspiration. I used to love to go there. It was peaceful and quiet. You walked pretty deep in the woods and then you came to the creek that the cows would use to cool off. There was a wooden bridge and when you crossed it, there was a hill that was open and in the spring would be covered with tiny little flowers. If I kept going to the edge and crossed over the fence, I would wind up in my Great Aunt Thelma’s woods and then her house. I just love this place, it feels like home and I want to remember it.
The great thing about painting is, it doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be an exact replica. I’m proud of my painting even though it looks like a little kid did it and so is my family. I didn’t paint every tree and I didn’t even put the tons of leaves on the ground that I would have been stomping on to get to the bridge. I just painted and didn’t fret over every detail and I love how it turned out. The colors are vibrant (although you really can’t tell because of the camera I’m having to use) and I just had fun with it. Now to finish redecorating my mantel, but that’s another post!
Here’s how I did it:
One canvas from Hobby Lobby (pack of two for $7.99)
Acrylic craft paint
Brushes of all different sizes (We’ve acquired a collection over the years and these are the cheap brushes)
Water to clean brushes
Paper towels to dry brushes
Easel or something to prop up your painting
Think of what you want to paint. It could be simple, like a leaf. I like to have a picture or the object to look at. If you don’t have a picture, look at the internet for something similar. I looked at pictures of wooden bridges in the woods and pictures creeks since I don’t have a picture of our woods.
Choose the paint colors that you like or that match the room you’re putting your painting in. I did the sky first. Anything that is going to be in the background needs to be done first. Think in terms of layers. Then I lightly put in the creek bed (brown). Then I did the sides of the creek (tan) and then did the grass and the hill. All of this is just rough. Next, I worked on the creek. I like to mix my colors by picking up different colors with the brush. I dipped in blue, then I did a lighter blue and a tiny bit of white. Some of it blended into a new color and some of it streaked and made it look like the water is flowing. It was a total accident, but it was exactly what I wanted. I did mess up a time or two, but it’s just paint, and you can just paint over the mistakes. There is no right way! Then I worked on the grass areas, making some lighter and some darker using different shades of green and blending some of it together.
Then I added trees. I love painting trees and I don’t know why, but I love drawing and painting trees. I just used a small stiff brush to paint the trunks with a quick swipe. Then I used another stiff brush to stipple the leaves. I layered colors over and over until I got the look I wanted (reds, orange, yellow and greens). The rest is just working on the details. Shadowing on the side of the creek (a grey-brown that I smeared with the tip of my finger), leaves and a rock in the water, dots for flowers on the hill, things like that.
I hope I’ve inspired you to take the plunge and try to paint. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Monet or not. It’s for you to enjoy and have fun with. Be bold! Try it! Let your kids see you do it. It will teach them that it’s ok not to be perfect and to be happy with the imperfections because that painting is a piece of you. Matter of fact, Emily sat down and used the other canvas and did her own painting. She encouraged me when I got frustrated and I encouraged her. Huge thing since we are both severe perfectionists! She told me where to make a change or two when I asked her opinion and I responded to her only when she wanted a suggestion. It was relaxing and fun for us both and it was the first time either of us dared to put something on canvas! Let me know if you try it and post pictures!