The only thing I hate about being a photo-artist is that it's hard to take advantage of all the yummy things in an art supply shop and it's much harder to post interesting progress photos showing all the delicious pigments and brushes used. Both are irresistable - more addictive than catnip! A photo of a Xencelabs or Wacom tablet and stylus, or a printer and a box of printer ink, does not have the same appeal as a messy swathe of colour on a palette and a dripping brush!
But that's not the only reason I've taken up more mixed-media work to augment my photo-artistry. One thing I'm learning is that to keep inspiration going and skills progressing, it really helps to get more experience working with different artistic media. It has helped make me more observant and it's helped me tap back into the joy of creating for creatings sake - what I like to think of as a beginner's mindset. It's not really just an excuse to nip down to Gordon Harris or fill up a basket at Takapuna Art Supplies - honest!
Artist Karen Rankin is to blame - she started me on the slippery slope of mixed media when I bought a gorgeous kākā painting from her, all blinged up with shimmery inks and pearlescent pastels. She encouraged me to incorporate some shimmer into my photo-art (which can't be printed with a standard fine-art printer), and I've since used them in a variety of ways, including embellishing fine-art prints by hand, like "The Boffin" pictured above.
I loved how this doodle worked out! Inspired by CeeCee, I challenged myself to paint three blobby shapes using colours already on my palette, run them into one another, then look for patterns and doodle them in. What did I see? Birds of course
More recently, I've succumbed to gelliplate monoprinting and collage, thanks to the irrepressible Froyle Davies, and to mixed-media watercolour doodling thanks to Canadian artist CeeCee (Catherine Côté). Photo-artistry, at least the way I do it, requires a lot of exacting painstaking work and also comes with a delete key (handy!), but I was keen to create more loosely, and literally sometimes scribble outside the lines with no backsies.
My first attempt at a collage using gelliplate papers, stencils, gold paint, and tūī from a large print of "The Sign of the Southern Cross", which had a printing flaw in it (waste not, want not!). It took me three days to get all the matt-medium off my fingers LOLOLOL
Creating with a beginner's mindset gives me more freedom to create for the hell of it, to make mistakes, and to experiment. Although I still have a ton to learn about photography and photo-artistry, I feel a basic competence and confidence when I pick up my tools, but I'm also in the mindset that this is how I make my living so I better get it right, which is not necessarily the best mindset for creativity.
A beginner's mindset is not without its challenges though. When I pick up a paintbrush, the insecurities flood in. I hate failing (don't we all) and I know the only way to get any better at anything is to put the hours in. I'm finding it takes some fortitude to apply the paint to the paper and risk wasting expensive supplies. It can be 4:30 in the afternoon before I'm ready to commit and get started. But every now and then, a piece turns out great, and I'm inspired to keep on trying new things and creating.
"Summers End at Zealandia" [Original SOLD|Embellished prints available]
is another three by three mixed-media watercolour doodle. I've been challenging myself on each photoshoot to observe (and photograph) nine things and then create a doodle using a limited colour palette of just 3-5 paints. It's harder than you might think! I'll perhaps write more about this in a future blog.
I hope you don't mind me sharing some of this journey with you. Have you tried something outside your comfort zone lately? How do you push yourself through the difficult bits? And if you have a favourite art supply that you reckon I should try, feel free to lead me into temptation 😂
P.S. And a special thanks to my social media followers who have been so supportive when I've posted some of these pieces - it's pretty scary putting art out there but you've all been so lovely 🥰