Sometimes I get lucky & a day of play turns into something more...

Barb Toland Creative Sparks

Today I'm going to focus on a new piece I recently painted, all the reasons why I love it, and some of the ideas I experimented with that ultimately got me there.

It happened one day after I decided to take my own advice & just play around to get those elusive creative juices flowing again.

I had been kind of stuck after dealing with a number of overwhelming things that happened in my life, and sorely needed to feel connected to a source of joy again ... in my case, playing with paint normally gets me there.

So that's exactly what I did. I played. A lot. With paint.

There were many things I painted that day that I didn't particularly care for, but one piece came out of all of it that I absolutely loved - and that's what we're going to focus on here.

But first I wanted to show you one of many I painted that day, that was not so good...

Yes, I actually tore it up. Not because I was upset or frustrated. After all, I showed up in the studio that day with no end game in mind, simply to play. I tore it up because I recycle everything I can, and I didn't want what I considered mediocre art in the hands of others, lol.

But the good news is that by painting this torn up piece & others I recycled that day, I was ultimately led to this painting that I'm quite happy with...


CityScapes ©
8" x 10" 
encaustic & watercolor

Let's take some time to walk thru my process, how I playfully stumbled along, stubbed my toe a few times, and then happily arrived at the above painting.

I started the day wanting to paint some beach sunsets. So that's where I began. But from the very first one I painted, I felt like it wasn't quite the direction I wanted to go. After more play, I definitely sensed there was something more my creative voice wanted to say.

Then before I knew it, I found myself painting skyscrapers big & small along the horizon, right overtop of my sunsets. I tried a few (thus the recycled ones), and even though I felt like I was getting closer to what I truly wanted to paint that day, I knew there was more.

After some further play & experimenting, I realized that, because I was craving more texture & more flow to the paint, I decided I wanted to try painting on something other than watercolor paper.

I dug around in the gobs of art stuff I've got, and voila! I spotted some gessoed blank canvas panels. So I grabbed a few of them to see what I could come up with.

I didn't even know at that point if the watery paint would work on them. I didn't know if it would "stick", or if it would just retract into blobs. But that's what experimenting & play is all about right?

So that's exactly what I did...

I discovered much to my delight that the paint didn't blob up, but it also didn't thoroughly soak in like it does on paper. I was rather enjoying getting to push it around with my brush. I found I could mix & mingle it right on the canvas, getting some interesting colors variations.

I was also REALLY digging the weave of the canvas showing thru the transparent watercolors.

It was at this exact moment when I tapped into what I call my "creative voice happy dance". That's where it feels as though my heart takes a leap & twirls around the room. And instead of consternation & scorn for my lack of being able to figure it out (you know, when I'm living in my head lol), a kind of joy takes over.

My inner child was like ... Yes!!!! Yes!!! That's it!!!!

Then I knew my aim was beginning to be true.

Once I figured out this was the direction I wanted to take, I went back to trying my hand at that "ocean-sunset-turned-cityscape" piece I had in mind.

When I was finished, I realized that even though the paint dried in place, because it didn't soak into the canvas as much as it does on watercolor paper, I knew it needed some protection from rubbing off.

And since I love encaustic just as much, I then applied a good protective coat of encaustic wax & fused with my handy dandy heat gun, giving the painting a warm kind of glow.

And this was born...

Here's some close ups...



Ok, so that's a wrap folks.

Now it's your turn...

If you like to make art, what process have you experimented with lately that has led to YOUR own creative happy dance? Or what do you struggle with?

And if instead you like to collect art, what have you discovered on your creative journery that has gotten you totally excited?

Whether you're a maker, a collector, or both - there's nothing as important to your creative growth, than to learn to articulate what's going on in your head & heart when it comes to art.

So take a minute & share with me what's going on in that gorgeous mind of yours...

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