February/March 2014 - Vol. 72

Spring Forward - an Artist's Sampler by Ros Yates

Title:   Irises  May 2012
Medium:  Wax resist and watercolour

These irises were picked from the garden in our holiday home.  I wanted to celebrate the joy they had brought me and my sister, recently diagnosed with cancer – (I sent her another painting of the same flowers). 

At the time I was also preparing for Art Workshops at the 2012 ‘On Holiday’ Sword of the Spirit gathering in Belgium.  This painting was a demonstration piece.  I called the workshops ‘Praying and Playing with Paint’.  The idea was for people who are not used to painting to have a go, but to be freed up from the need to make their painting look exactly like the object that inspired it. This ‘I can’t draw’ syndrome often holds people back from delving into art.   The painting is made by starting with a blank piece of white paper and spending some time just looking at the vase of flowers (or whatever). Then take a white wax candle and, pressing hard, just scribble shapes inspired by the flowers.  You can’t see what you are doing – but that’s the whole point! – there need be no fear of making mistakes – there are no mistakes, just a creative flow.

Then with a big brush and a lot of water,  you wet the whole paper and let it soak in.  Only then do you add splashes of wet colour, more or less where the flowers are – or not!  The ‘wet in wet’ technique is a wild and unpredictable affair – just like a lot of life!  The paint flows in different directions and creates some beautiful effects, and the white wax lines show through.  It can take several minutes to watch and see what the paint will do and even longer to see how it will look when dry.    During the workshops we painted pictures inspired by the leaves and pine cones of the forest in which we were staying at De Vossemeren CenterParcs. We talked about how these paintings are like our lives – we are often fearful of making our mark, of making mistakes, spoiling the white paper. But when we go for it beautiful things can happen. It may not turn out how we intended, and might even look a mess – but our Creator God treasures what we offer and redeems our mistakes.

Personally this is a challenge to me – I do love attention to detail and often my paintings aim at being very accurate to life, so this kind of ‘playing with paint’ is quite freeing once I have a go and not worry about the cost of paper! 

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