Nature as a Stencil
May 5th, 2009
Last week in my Intuitive Painting class, I was given two random colors on cards to work with. I mixed the colors and then used them to play with. I also had a few elements from nature to bounce off of. Truth is, I wasn't too excited about anything I created in class, but I knew that I could keep playing with the images and they were only beginnings. Back at home, I took one of the larger pieces and cropped it down to what I saw as the most interesting part of the painting (below). I'd done some work with texture and some hand-cut stencils to make the shapes there. I still want to play with it more.
The two colors I randomly selected were orange and green. The green you can see above. In the piece below, I started with light layers of orange and green using the natural forms I'd chosen. Again, I wasn't loving it. But sometimes not liking something you're working on frees you up to do something drastic that you might not have tried. Sometimes making something you consider "ugly", gives you permission to let go and experiment and stretch yourself in new ways.
Back at home, I took a eucalyptus branch and put it down on the orange/green painting. Then, using a spray bottle filled with some water and a bit of payne's gray acrylic paint, I sprayed over the painting using the eucalyptus plant as a kind of 3D stencil. I loved the way that looked. I then played with layering thin layers of the payne's gray over the painting, emphasizing parts of the shape I created, and continuing to play until I came to what you see below:
This can be great fun to try with any natural element. Try starting with a base of color, then lay down your natural element (try branches, flowers, leaves, grass, sea shells, etc..). Use a spray bottle (an old cleaning bottle could work or you can purchase a little spray bottle from an art supply store) and spray liberally over the surface, maybe spray more in some areas and less in others for variety. Lift up your natural elements and see what kind of shapes they left behind. You can use paint to emphasize or soften the shapes.
After, you could try putting the same items or different ones down in a new arrangement and spray again with the same or a different color. So many ways to play with this. See where it takes you!
Last night, I tried doing this on a white sheet of paper to start, spraying with the payne's gray again and then painting with a mix green-gold, white, and ultramarine blue. It feels very ethereal to me.
This another piece that could be cropped or maybe played with more or maybe is fine just as it is. I need to let it sit for awhile. Here's a detail:
I'm sure I'll be playing with natural elements as stencils again this month, perhaps in a new way. I'd love to see where it leads you, if you give it a try!