Art Techniques | 10 May 20173 Art Projects to Relax, Refresh, and Refocus Share article facebook twitter google pinterest There’s something about making art that is both calming and inspiring. It allows you to clear your mind and let your imagination run wild. These 3 art projects from Drawing Calm will help you relax, refresh, and refocus. Dream House Doodle Using your imagination and creativity is easy when you want to fantasize about things that seem somewhat out of reach. Have you ever thought about what your dream home might be like? When money is no object and reality (or even gravity!) is not a concern, what kinds of details can you dream up? Have fun imagining the possibly impossible. YOU WILL NEED : • sheets of copy paper, any size • pens and pencils • watercolor paint, optional Gather your materials and start imagining your dream house. Try to dream up ten different features for your house. They could be specific to you and your habits or something that you saw in a futuristic cartoon—they could be anything. Don’t limit yourself by what is actually possible. Let your mind wander and give yourself endless possibilities. Get silly, get serious, or just let your curiosity rule with “what if?” questions. List your ten dream house details on paper. As you do so, you might make a quick sketch of the details. Fill your pages with words and doodles, all working toward creating your perfect space. You may find that these ideas prompt more detailed drawings or paintings. Explore them on paper if you like. Are you thinking about what your garden looks like? Or what color the house will be? What kind of location and atmosphere surrounds the house? No detail is too small or unimportant. Have fun with it. This is all for you, and you don’t have to stop at ten features—keep going and be as specific as you like. Your imagination is all you need to shift yourself out of rigid ways of thinking or away from a not-so-great day. Take the time to play and use your openness to explore more doodles and descriptions. Silent Beach A beach offers a still point where we can let go of our busy schedules, clear our minds, and tune into nature. This Degas drawing has a wonderfully peaceful feel to it. What I love about it is that Degas created such a deep vista of sand, sea, and sky simply with horizontal bands of color. I’ve played with this idea, using torn strips of paper colored with watercolor and gouache, but you could try it with pastel. Allow for some ambiguity, as getting specific or busy can change the feel of the work entirely. Let your colors remain flowing and soft. YOU WILL NEED : • 8″ x 10″ (20.5 x 25.5 cm) or 9″ x 12″ (23 x 30.5 cm) Bristol board or watercolor paper • three pieces of watercolor paper, 8″ x 10″ (20.5 x 25.5 cm) • watercolors and gouache • paintbrushes, in a variety of sizes • water • matte medium Imagine a seascape, using the Degas painting as a reference. Paint the Bristol board with a sand color. It can be an off-white or light brown, or lighter in some areas and darker in others. Allow the paint to dry completely. Paint the three pieces of watercolor paper, one in varying shades of blues, another with whites, and the third with soft yellow tones. Orient each of these horizontally on your workspace. Tear the painted sheets from step 2 into irregular horizontal strips. The paper can still be a little wet. There may be rough spots and crooked lines, which is okay. Enjoy the imperfections. Imagine a band of deep water at the bottom of the page, a brighter horizon line toward the middle, and a vast sky above. Overlap the pieces of torn paper on the background, brushing water over them to hold them together. Notice how you can add piece after piece to construct the three areas of color. The brightest band is in the center of the page. Attach the strips to the surface with matte medium. Starting at the bottom, attach the darkest section. Move up to the brightest area and then to the sky. Don’t worry if the colors aren’t coming together the way you want them quite yet. Let the matte medium dry. How do the bands of collaged color look? Do you have beautiful torn edges that are adding to the depth of the landscape? Add a few more torn pieces of painted paper, if you like. Now focus on how the color is lying on the page. Do you need to add anything? Does it feel hazy and beautiful, or do you want richer color? You can go back in with paint now and work on any areas that need a little something more. Start with a watery paint and let the subtle colors and torn paper textures remain important elements on the page. Enjoy the subtlety of the sea, sky, and the beautiful textures you’ve created. IMAGINARY LANDSCAPE Henri-Edmond Cross combined three things to give his painting a deeply relaxing sense of calm: an ocean vista, soft color, and pointillist patterns. The layers of color draw your eye back as far as the horizon with no interruption. Ah! In this project, we’ll create a fictitious landscape in acrylic. We’ll use Cross’s pointillism as inspiration for technique, but make our own composition and color palettes. YOU WILL NEED : • sheets of scrap paper • pencils • primed panel, canvas board, or heavy paper, 8″ x 10″ (20 x 25.5 cm) • acrylic paints • palette or ceramic plate • round items in different sizes and diameters for making marks: the end of a wood dowel, the eraser of a pencil, your fingertip, or anything else that will make a dot shape Think about your fantasy landscape—what do you like to gaze at? Water, sand, and sky? Mountains and valleys? Grassy meadows? Make a sketch of your ideal vista on scrap paper. Think about your color palette. You might choose the colors of a sunset, the dawn, or a field of wildflowers. Choose the colors for each area of your landscape. Set out your background panel and sketch the outlines of your landscape. Squeeze some paint and mix one of the lighter colors for your painting. Pick up the dowel, load the end with paint, and cover your panel with dots of color. Allow the paint to dry. Mix the color for the foreground. Load your dowel, and begin making small dots, side by side and across the page. You can make them slowly and meditatively, or you can work quickly and more randomly. Leave tiny bits of background color peeking through the dots. Allow the color to dry. Now work on the middle ground of your painting. If you have differently sized dot-making tools, experiment with how they affect your painting. Continue to add band after band of color. Do the same with the sky or background of your painting, so that all the layers of the landscape are roughly painted. Notice in Henri Cross’s painting how the bands of color used for the sand, sea, and sky are each made up of more than one color. Starting back at the bottom of your painting, add new dots of color that help describe each area. Mix in a few contrasting or alternate colors. Look at the transitions between each band of color. They will look more natural if they’re somewhat uneven. Allow some of dots of color to rise above or fall below the transition line. 8 Add nuances to complete your imaginary vista. Deeper tones may help define certain areas, making them recede or pop. Buy from an Online Retailer US: UK: Maybe it’s the colors, or the eye-stretching vistas, or maybe it’s just the idea that harmony can exist on a square of canvas, but there is something in art that lets it calm and inspire at the same time. In Drawing Calm, artist Susan Evenson, shows readers how to do the same. It’s a book for everyone—non-artists as well as those with plenty of experience in a studio. Using restful, but dynamic works of art as a starting point, Susan Evenson teaches how to capture the light and peace of the master painting. Making use of “soft” techniques such as torn-paper collage, blended pastels, and wet-on-wet watercolor, this workshop encourages stress-free creativity. Put on the music that makes you happy and choose the colors that take you there too! 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