December 20, 2011 § Leave a comment
Every year I make Christmas presents by hand. I do it because I think presents are more special when they’re handmade than bought out of a catalog, but I am also quite cheap sometimes. I don’t mean to be, but after my flight home is booked and my petsitter is paid, there just isn’t a lot of extra cash floating around in my life. Making presents is just better all around for everyone, although I have to admit it’s more stressful than just buying something. Making gifts is so personal; I’m always worried that they’re not going to know what to do with what I made them. Like they’ll look at it and go “Thanks…. what does it mean?” I worry about it especially when I paint portraits, because I’m afraid they’ll look at it and go “Who’s that?” I always underestimate how long it takes to make things too, so I’m always stressing out down to the last second because I’m painting into the night trying to get everything done, and then I worry until Christmas morning about whether the paint dried all the way before I wrapped it. Or similar thoughts like that.
Here’s what I made my parents this year.
I’m worried mom won’t understand it, that she won’t recognize the old pink sweater she used to wear. It’s really big and soft, but unexpectedly heavy. She tried to throw it out years ago, but I swiped it. I don’t wear it, but I like having it. Sometimes when I make personal paintings, even as gifts, they’re hard for me to give up. Oh, and don’t be fooled by the wood background. It’s real wood, I didn’t paint it. All I did was stain it and paint on shadows so it would look like boards instead of just a plank. Anyway, it’s a tromploi painting. I’ve always loved them, especially in Dutch art of the seventeenth century. Mine isn’t as good as theirs were, of course, but I did my best and I did paint it in like a day. I don’t know how to paint texture though. You’d think I would have learned that in art school! It was really frustrating trying to remember how to paint, too, since I haven’t done it in *so* long. And I haven’t finished a painting in years. I just hope they find some meaning in this painting, even if it’s not the same meaning I find.
The other painting, a portrait, is still in the works. I still have to make at least two more presents between now and when I leave Thursday morning, so that’s a problem. I’ll have to work smaller, I guess. Or work on the plane? I don’t know. I’ll just try and get done what I can.
(sorry for the terrible quality. I’ll take a better picture when it’s done!) My art teachers would yell at me for working in sections like this instead of working the whole surface, but whatever. Michelangelo worked in sections, so there! I don’t have a very good grasp on fleshtones and shadows either, which is problematic. During a figure painting summer course, one of my teachers told me to “stop painting dead people” and he took away my blue paints, because I used too many cool tones in my figures. I tried using mostly pink, white, and a little teeny bit of blue and brown in this one, but I’m not sure how successful it is. The hand really bothers me because it looks like she’s flicking off the viewer. sigh. I’ll try and paint in an extra finger tonight, even though the photo I’m working from looks like that. Oh, just so you know what this is — it’s a portrait of my aunt’s mother. I drew my aunt’s name for secret santa. I think I got her last year too, haha, but I like that. She’s one of my favorite relatives! And she doesn’t have kids, so she likes to treat me like the daughter she never had. Lots of makeup and jewelry! She calls me the princess and I call her the diva. This portrait, naturally, will be titled “Queen of the Diva”. I’ll write it on the bottom. Just in case Lisa doesn’t recognize her mother in this painting…
I bought varnish to varnish this painting and the one for my parents, but it’s a week-long process, mainly to make sure everything is absolutely dry. These works need the extra protection, though, because my aunt and uncle and my parents live in houses that are heated by woodstoves. So that means smoke, and they need to be protected from that. I might just give my dad some varnish and ask him to do it after I’m sure they’re all dry. I don’t think he’d mind and I certainly trust him to do it. Not that I’ve ever been particularly concerned about the longevity of my works…
Ah, so much to do before we leave, so little time. Isn’t that just the story of my life?