Practicing Painting

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A few years ago, Rory Dodd of Designersblock recommended Josef Albers’ Interaction of Colour to me for practicing how colours work together. Finally I got round to buying it last year, and to actually bucking up enough courage to let myself paint badly last month.

Because, you see, while I am happy on InDesign, and even quite happy drawing with pen, I haven’t been able to befriend a paintbrush. Not ever. Charcoal, oil pastels, chalk – all fine. But brushes allude me.

I enjoyed painting with gouache once at school, and my gouache set is encouragingly named ‘Designer’s Gouache’. So that’s what I’ve started with.

The above studies were taken from Albers’ book. I know I’ve got a way to go, but it’s a start. The middle colours are the same shades, but look different because of their backgrounds.

After some hours of intense concentration, I read that Albers recommends using coloured paper so that you don’t have to spend hours mixing paint colours. Gah… I’m glad I tried with gouache anyway, I enjoyed the challenge.

The experience was an exercise in pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Being able to let oneself make mistakes and practicing patience with oneself is a useful attitude that enables positive risk taking and learning in new areas. It’s a little bit courageous. I hope that by practicing doing this myself, I will be more empathetic and encouraging when I lead other people outside of their comfort zones creatively at work.

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The same day as I painted the Albers studies, I felt inspired enough to draw this for a friend – I couldn’t get the paint to look flat enough so I used pen in the end.

My grandma (who is a painter) challenged me to paint some greeting cards for her (she’s only just started to use email, but she’ll send a card after anyone visits her as well). I painted a few practice designs for her to choose from. Here they are:

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I reckon I could do the orange one quite quickly by hand and they’d still turn out beautifully. I might do some to sell in a local cafe. My grandma wants an extra one of each by June though.

I’d very much welcome recommendations or encouragement from any painters out there.

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