Julie Maida

ART & DESIGN

Category: Painting

For Creation’s Sake

When I was in college for illustration, I was taught that your art must have a message. It must “say” something. If you are an illustrator, this is like the whole point of your job so it is pretty good advice. The problem with this, though, is that I don’t have anything to say. It took me a long time to “get over” this about myself and realize that I just like to make stuff. I am not especially deep or talkative  with my art. Maybe it is because I talk a lot in general (as evidenced both in conversation and via this blog) and there is nothing left for my art.

Usually my thought process before creating goes something like this…”Oooooo! Look! A bird! Yay! I’ll paint one!” I don’t start until I have a clear mental image of the end result (which is almost immediately when I see something I like). That is seriously about it. The truth is that I just enjoy looking at visual things, (especially color), and they make me want to create more visual things. Images go through my mind constantly and sometimes they are so clear that I can’t remember if I saw it, or I made it up. I will admit that this isn’t always a good thing and neither is the fact that sometimes in the middle of a conversation I will disappear into my head to see something I want to make, but it is just the way I am. I have been like this since I was a baby.

This one started with “Oooo, I’ll paint on some newspaper!”

 

This one is a combination of “I still want to paint on newsprint, I love blue, and I still like birds”

 

Though I don’t have anything particularly deep to say with my art, I do have an opinion about the idea of creating in general. I always find it interesting the way that creation seems to be an inherent quality in human nature. There is a reason kids like side walk chalk and Legos. I am a big believer that everyone is creative in one way or another. I don’t mean artistic creative either. For example, if you were my husband, you would have a jeep in the garage right at this very moment (that just sits there and does nothing because it is very old and does not work AT ALL), but since this is your creative outlet, you tell yourself that you can bring her back to life again. In truth, I really do have every confidence (and lots and lots of hope) that said jeep will (eventually) make a comeback because when it comes to stuff like this, my husband really is creative and naturally gifted. I swear the man and take apart and put anything back together (you’re welcome, Josh).

Like I said…Lots and lots of hope…

Creativity is seriously everywhere though. There is a reason we have actors, and musicians, and writers, and dancers, and scientists, and mathematicians, and doctors, and historians, and attorneys, and mechanics (I could go on and on). There is built-in creativity in all of this work. So what is my theory? I think it is God’s thumbprint in us. He is the ultimate creator, and being his creations, we reflect Him. I mean, just look at procreation. If the ability to make entirely new people isn’t a reflection of God’s creativity, then I don’t know what is. It even has the word creation in it!

For this I am grateful. I have come to believe that along with relationships, our drive  and ability to create is one of God’s greatest gifts to us. So next time you are feeling creative because you saw something cool on Pinterest, take a moment to revel in the absolute pleasure of creation simply for creation’s sake. 🙂

Wax and Fire

Finally! I made an attempt at the whole painting with hot beeswax thing (encaustic art). I dedicated quality time to learning about it (watched several YouTube videos), ordered the correct equipment (all things that have the ability to badly burn me or create a fire), and “I” cleared out an area in our garage as a temporary home for this endeavour (my husband, Joshua, actually did the  clearing). With fresh enthusiasm and determination, I decided I would create my first hot wax painting, and that it would, of course, be an immediate masterpiece! And I failed miserably.

In my head, I was going to create something ethereal and dreamy with lots of colors, kind of like this one pictured below. This  work was created by artist Natalie Salminen. I adore her work. Click on the painting to be redirected to her website.

Despite having high hopes for my instant transformation into a capable encaustic artist, I did not create anything close to masterpiece. I did not even create art. In fact, all I really did was make a mess.

Let me explain. Encaustic art requires several things. One needs pigmented beeswax (which is the actual “paint”), a hot palette to keep the wax hot enough to spread over a surface (in this case a wood panel), some kind of wax to use to “wash” off the beeswax from your brushes in between applications, and a heat gun. You can also use a special iron to apply the wax (which I have, but have failed at doing anything with other than melt my painting). Sounds reasonable, right? Apparently, it is much harder than it looks on Youtube.

Notice the tree in the background that makes it look like I may have created that in wax.
That is definitely just an acrylic painting. :/

What I did not realize is that all waxes have different flash points. This simply means that there is a temperature at which the wax will catch on fire and explode (exploding wax is baaaad). Being the good little researcher that I am, I knew this about beeswax and kept it at the correct temperature (yay me). However, I did not know that soy wax, (which is the wax used to wash the beeswax off of the brushes), has a much, much lower flashpoint. Ooopppss. The issue, though, is that when I turned my hot plate temperature to something lower and more agreeable to the soy wax, the beeswax isn’t hot enough and starts cooling before I even get the brush across the painting. This results in a stupid looking mass of wax on some wood.

Not art

I was a little frustrated by this at first, but alas! There is still hope for me!  I simply need second hot plate/palette, so that I can keep the two waxes at different temperatures. This means that I can expect to create several more disasters until I manage to get the hang of this thing. I will say that I really enjoy the heatgun. It is my new best friend, and I am excited to use it when creating future messes.

Heat guns are awesome.