Painting


Happy Anniversary to my blog! You’re eight years old!

When I began blogging in 2009, I had just embarked on a new career path. “Life’s transitions and challenges allow opportunities for personal and professional development” (About page). “Throughout my transitions, I learn and grow. And my writing reflects my travel experiences…” (see my initial post) and I set out to record those travel experiences and transitions.

Over the past eight years, I transitioned several times, often travelling paths I didn’t expect. Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken” remains my theme poem; my path was the one less traveled by. In all cases, though, I grew from the experience. And I recorded my experiences and growth, either here, in off-line files, or in published articles. I continue to encourage, empower, and inspire others…and be inspired!

For the creative non-fiction I’ve recorded here, roads diverge again. Do I continue recording on the blog or elsewhere? I choose the more challenging road—that of Published Articles. Although that’s an often-traveled road, it’s a new/developing path for me. And I’m sure that path will make all the difference!

Parting Gift—Multi-Media Collage

My art mentor, Glenna Rosansky, decided it was time to create a collage. I usually create collages from cutout shapes, words, or stickers. That’s not what Glenna had in mind. To warm up, we looked at examples of painted string art, rice paper and torn paper collages. We talked about cool and warm colors.

As Glenna read from Nita Leland’s The New Creative Artist, I picked up a small wide brush and daintily dipped it into a small pool of yellow on my palette. “Creativity is a journey of self-discovery.” I added orange and more water to the yellow and painted broad strokes across the page. “What do I most love to do?” Do joyful activities! I chose bright, sunny, joyful colors.

“When the artist is alive in any person…he becomes an inventive, searching, daring, self-expressive creature.” (Robert Henri, The Art Spirit.) I experimented with craft scissors and delicate paper doilies. The shiny gold crinkle paper added depth to the white doily. But where was the purple I usually use? I found some wooden popsicle sticks with abstract purple and blue shapes. I glued the sticks haphazardly to the paper. I pressed the plastic teeth of a comb on the thick green paint to create a windy movement.

I wanted to open the pipes to creativity and blessing, and clear the blockage. I leave you, my readers, with this gift. Continue to write–and paint–about transitions and challenges. It’s all good!

Multi-Media Collage, (c) Sherri Leah Henkin, July 2017

Multi-Media Collage, (c) Sherri Leah Henkin, July 2017

 

 

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Painting Lesson #1

I wanted to paint without focusing on a specific subject or even color scheme. Glenna Rosansky thought I’d enjoy experimenting. First I learned leaf printing. I painted watercolor on the back of a leaf. Then pressed that side of the leaf on the cold press watercolor paper. I chose soft colors and contrasted with vibrant colors. To add some depth, I used an ink pen. I loved experimenting with the media, combining nature and man-made paint. I relaxed during the process, placing the leaves gently on the page. I enjoy looking at the colors, shapes, lines, and design.

 dec-2016-leaf-printing

Painting Lesson #2

In the following session, I learned two new techniques: Wet-on-wet and crinkled plastic wrap. For wet-on-wet, I sprayed water on the cold press paper and then dropped color on the water. Then waited and watched where the color went. I turned the page, and the water flowed down or sometimes to the side. The water didn’t always go in the direction I thought it would, or wanted it to.

Next I painted thick color on the paper. Of course I chose some of my favorite shades—purple, green, blue—and added some yellow for contrast. I crumpled a piece of plastic wrap and pressed the wrap on swabs of wet color. I discovered that I got different designs if I pressed with my fingers than when I pressed with my knuckles or side of my fist. And then I could use the remaining paint on the plastic wrap to print a light design on the paper. There’s not a right way or a wrong way; there’s not one way to do this technique.

jan-2017-wetonwet-plastic-wrap

What I Learned from Painting

My day sometimes turns out like my paintings. I have a schedule that I plan to follow. But something comes up that I don’t expect and I change direction. The day may not turn out like I expected, with all my action items checked off. Yet I can still look back and see that I was productive and the day was beautiful.

There’s not a right way or wrong way to create the action plan for the day. Try one process to create an action plan. Relax with the process. Be open to opportunities of learning new techniques.

How do you create your action plan or schedule? Share your process in the comments!

**

Paintings (c) Sherri Leah Henkin 2016, 2017

 

 

“Welcome to Kiev.”

Three words I never thought I’d hear in my life. The KLM plane had just touched down at Borispol Airport.

I had flown with a group of women from the US. In Kiev, we met a group from Israel and Europe. Our spiritual journey to the birthplace of Chassidus was about to begin. For me, the trip was a family reunion of sorts, since I met up with my Israeli cousins and friends.

**

Kiev, Berditchev, Mezhibuzh, Breslov, and Uman had not been on my list of places to visit. I’d studied about the former USSR and learned about the roles these cities played in Jewish history. Over the last few decades, I’d heard the first-hand stories of visitors to this part of the world. While the experiences interested me, I never expected to travel to Ukraine.

So what changed?

A suggestion here: “I’m going to Uman in July; why don’t you come with our group?” Debbie had asked. A hint there: “It’s a healing, life-changing trip!” The emotional video on the Holy Journeys website drew me. And Hashem [G-d] created life circumstances that made the trip possible.

I traveled through time and physical space to a mystical—but very real—place. Learning, praying, laughing, crying, dancing, and singing—all the raw emotions rattled my core and catapulted me into a positive direction. With immense gratitude to Hashem [G-d], I share with you some of the photos from this trip.

Tomb of Rav Levi Yitzchok from Berditchev

Tomb of Rav Levi Yitzchok from Berditchev [For historical description, see: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1007604/jewish/A-Brief-Biography.htm.]

Berditchev Cemetery from Sara

Berditchev Cemetery (Photo Credit: Sara Melman)

 

 Baal Shem Tov

Tomb of the Baal Shem Tov and others (Mezhibuzh) [For historical description, see: http://www.chabad.org/generic_cdo/aid/388609/jewish/The-Baal-Shem-Tov.htm.]

Hotel in Mezhibuzh on Left

Hotel building in Mezhibuzh

Night Sky En Route to Mezhibuzh

Painting of Night Sky en route to Mezhibuzh

In Uman, we prayed and learned at the tomb of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. I was drawn to the exquisite beauty of Gan Sofia (Sofia Park).

Fountain near entrance                        Lily Pad                                        Waterfall

**

Photos (except Berditchev Cemetery) and painting (c) Sherri Leah Henkin 2016

Before I even took out the painting supplies, I told Glenna, “I want to paint simcha, joy, happiness!”

“Really? Well, this matches perfectly with what quotes and samples I chose for today’s inspiration!”

Ya gotta love it when teacher and student are on the same wave length!

I took time today to switch from my work with words to work with paint. Earlier in the day I struggled with some of the business activities—writing pitches/marketing and computer login issues—and wanted a break. Additionally, it’s a joyful time of year and in my family, and I wanted to explore those feelings in art. But how?

While looking at Contemporary Painting by Charles LeClair, I learned about the five levels of perception of color:

  • abstract
  • representation
  • material concerns
  • connotation and symbolism
  • emotional expression

Emotional expression grabbed me…that’s it! One painting in that section had dark hues, expressing grief and sadness. Another picture had a bright yellow house outlined in red…I smiled! The paintings evoked precise emotions.

Then we looked at The New Creative Artist by Nita Leland where I saw a list of colors with their psychological associations (p. 87):

Communicate With Color-Leland

The associations fascinated me. Orange relates to sociability and ambition. I focused on the optimism and intuition of Yellow. One of the emotions associated with Red is excitement. Of course I was easily drawn to my favorites Blue and Violet. But today I was up for an experiment.

I’m excited and passionate about the joyous family events; should I paint in Red? It’s so unlike me.

I struggle with the business development and marketing aspects; should I try Orange to counteract my introvertness?

And I’m optimistic and Yellow makes me smile today.

I’ll move completely out of my comfort zone, away from my go-to colors and see what comes out.

I wasn’t sure what I’d place on the blank page…almost never am. Somehow shapes seemed the right form. But I wasn’t even sure which ones…until I saw the stars. I smiled when I saw those star stencils. And although I wanted to use orange, red, and yellow, what do I outline with? Glenna reminded me about contrasting colors with a quick refresher of Color Wheel 101!

I decided to combine watercolor pencils and watercolors to see what would happen. I love to watch the colors drip into each other.yellow star The water flowing from the strong red outline into the bright lemon yellow star created an interesting shade.

 

Then I gently stroked the water in the brush’s soft bristles over the purple outline and wisped that color into the medium yellow puffy star.

yellow puffy star

 

 

I softened the green outline with small amounts of water and slightly blended that with orange.

orange star

 

 

But what to do in the middle? I wanted something with circles or soft round edges to offset the starts. We looked for the butterfly shape I’d used once and couldn’t find it. I guess I’m not supposed to paint butterflies today; what else could I use? I saw the curly-cue shape…that’s it! curly-cue shape

I got excited by the shapes and contrasts. I even experimented with a rose shade of a different type of watercolor. As I looked at the curly-cue shape and the lines I’d painted, I realized that unwittingly the abstract perception of color from LeClair’s influenced my work today. The shape looks deeper as I focus on each row of color.

But what to do in the lower right corner? Perhaps some free-hand drawing? Perhaps something easy that I enjoy painting?

noteMusical Notes! Why not! I’ve painted music before! Looking at my color wheel, I found the contrasting colors and painted them into this picture.

 

 

 

The results astonished me! Contrasting shapes, bright colors, symmetry, and large white spaces.

  • The contrasts bring me into the painting. Abstract lines give my eyes plenty to look at; there’s lots of variety.
  • I noticed how white space/negative space is as important in art as it is in the written word. The white space allows my eyes to rest.
  • There’s symmetry with the three connected shapes.
  • The puffy star is off on its own.
  • And the musical notes balance the piece.

full painting

What do I really see here?

My eyes focus immediately on the curly-cue shape; the alternating colors draw me so that suddenly I’m focused on the yellow center that’s surrounded by rose. I could be either the yellow or orange star, attaching myself to a central force that’s always there. The center steadies me, much the way I turn to Hashem (G-d) several times during my day.

Once I have my center, I’m grounded and can move out to new territory. The puffy star moves away—perhaps a new idea whose time has come to fly off and bring me to new exciting places. Where are we headed? What will we see? I think with childlike wonder.

Or maybe that puffy star is an old belief or habit that no longer serves me…and it’s time to let that go. Goodbye! Thanks for traveling with me! Enjoy your new journey!

Possibly that puffy star is the child who is growing up and ready to take off in a new direction. That’s what’s happening in the family now; we’re at a joyous milestone! As long as that puffy star—I mean child—knows where his center his, knows his base, he’ll have a great journey! And I send him off with love!

And the musical notes? Simcha, joy, dancing, fun conversations, a beautiful flower…anything that makes my heart sing!

I’m given interesting circumstances; some are more challenging than I’d prefer. So I have a choice of how to respond. Why not choose joy?

**

The blog post honors—

  • the Hebrew month of Adar; a month of pure joy where I deepen my connection through love and simcha!
  • my first grandson’s bar mitzvah…a truly joyous milestone!

 

The blank canvas can intimidate; it can also excite. The off-white page invites me to explore color and shade. What color do I start with? Do I paint all the white spaces…or leave some borders or holes? Do I paint deep purple or light shades? Or a combination?

 

Paint brushes filled with water can glide on the page. Filled with intense color, the brush moves slowly. Do I want the strong concentrated green? Or do I dabble water over the forest green to create a light sea green? Or how about a mixture of both shades and tones in between?

 

The white space between the colors intrigues me. What does it symbolize? Is it there “just because”? Possibly.

 

I play with the colors and the water…and enjoy the painting process!

Rosh Chodesh Kislev 5776 (2015)-Leah Henkin

Painted music…what’s that?”

Exactly as it’s sounds: music that is painted and not played.

Dip your soft bristled brush into some cool water. Then gently swirl the bristles in your favorite water color shade. Lightly guide the color over the stark white page and form amusing and unusual musical notes and whimsical bars.

painted music 07232015 (2)

Gliding the brush across the page, I created deep royal purple curves. Pausing a bit to survey the scene, I lifted the brush slightly off the page and gently swirled the color into light, almost transparent lines.

Musical bars need notes! But what kind?

My brain went blank trying to recall the different types of notes. What are were those circles called? (Whole notes, I later remembered.) But those might look so bland.

What about those notes with lines and “tails”?

Those looked fun!

Some in pairs and some just there!

Some are dancin’ and some are prancin’!

You, too, can have Painted Music! Just add water, stir, and glide!

***

With gratitude to Glenna Rosansky  (and a bit of inspiration from Dr. Seuss!).

 

I wanted to use the entire page and paint broad, graceful brush strokes.

But of what? What colors? What scene?

Nothing came to mind. So Glenna and I mined the photos and pictures in her studio. I looked at colors – some bold and striking, some muted pastels, and others were dark browns/black. I saw shapes, designs, abstracts of natural forms, and photographs of ocean scenes. We even found Arthur Dove’s paintings of George Gershwin’s music in abstract! Now that was playfully fun!

I wasn’t going to paint music…not just yet.

I wanted muted color. I wanted ocean and sky…and a little beach. And possibly try a new technique. With a broad brush, and of course purple, I began painting sky. Soft, wispy cloud-like sky. Adding water to the paint softened the color, making some of it transparent.

Relaxing a bit, and feeling a bit adventurous, I looked for orange. But what shade of orange? Not ORANGE, but orange…quiet, subtle orange; an orange that would mix gently with the purple.

Feeling bolder still, and playful, I added arch-like strokes – reaching upward toward the heavens. And then blended the orange with a pastel yellow. The flowing wispy colors opened my lungs; I could breathe now.

Moving down the page, on a low horizon line, I found the ocean. Blue – aquamarine blue – with gentle waves. And as the water reached the brown beach, the waves kicked up a bit. White crests against the blue and brown.

Wispy strokes created soft sky and ocean breezes.

Anyone for a walk along my beach?

ocean and sky 02242015