Wednesday, August 30, 2017

My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #1853: New Project for Toletown for September

In keeping with my promise to myself and you all to try to do better with blogging regularly, I decided to post some pictures of a project that I am working on for the Toletown painting community for September. 

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Toletown ( it is an online painting group that is a fun place to learn about and share our love of painting. I have been aware of them for well over ten years and have been a member for as long as I can remember. a few years ago, Lorrie (I’ll call her the Mayor of Toletown) asked me if I would like the join her ‘Design Team’ of artists who create projects for the website. I gladly accepted.  

As a member of the design team, I create two “full projects” per year, which means they include video lesson(s) and what Lorrie calls a “quick paint” which doesn’t require videos. Those who know me though know that my quick paint projects are also usually full patterns – complete with lots of step-by-step colors photos and instructions. I don’t know how to teach any other way.  I am in the company of some wonderfully fabulous designers, and as a member of Toletown, each month the members receive two new full patterns with access to the accompanying videos, a quick paint, a line work “challenge” piece to play with from Lorrie, and access to the archives of classes, patterns, etc. that Toletown has to offer. It is a great value for painters both financially as well as in regards to the wealth of information/patterns/lessons it has to offer. You can join month to month or yearly, and there are always some fun specials and events that are offered. I hope you check it out.

I love designing for Toletown because it kind of forces me to create and shoot a video now and then. While I have lots of good intentions about doing so, I rarely find the time to really sit down and get it done. This gives me a 'reason’ to pull out the camera and teach on video. It is funny – I actually like doing things that way and teaching through videos. I always say I need to do it more often. But as usual, time isn’t always my friend and as per tradition, I have more ideas than time allows. This helps me make it a priority.

I also like to choose a project with somewhat of a 'different’ technique that isn’t common to tole painting. With all the new products out there – especially from DecoArt – I look at it as a wonderful opportunity not only to educate others on them but to learn something new myself. After all, I want things to be a bit more exciting than the typical “base coat, float shade, highlight, detail” sequence that is the core of many painted projects. I usually try to throw in at least a little something 'different’ so that the projects are truly a learning experience. It makes it fun and exciting. 

With exploring new avenues and techniques also comes failures. That is just the nature of the beast, I believe. I am a firm believer in that nothing teaches better than experience and sometimes things don’t always work out as we planned. 

I try to be genuine in my posts here, and that sometimes includes showing my botched attempts. While some of you think that every time I do something it is successful, we both know that if I allowed you to believe that, I would be lying. I have had my fair share and then some of “mishaps”. The thing is that I have learned to take them in stride and learn from them and try again. This project was a fine example of just that. 

I had a 'vision’ in my head of what I wanted this to look like. The intention of this project (besides looking cool!) was to give a lesson on high-contrast to create drama. I wanted the painting something that was going to make the viewer really 'look’ at it and say, “Wow!” and make a statement. Personally, I love painting 'dark’ things. Creating 'dark’ paintings where certain elements catch your attention would be a nice lesson and challenge for most. I had an idea … 

I had given you all a peek at the background for this project in the last blog post. This only came to be after no less than THREE attempts to achieve the look I wanted. The first time was pretty much a disaster. After trying a technique that I thought would work, it turned into a mucked up mess. I had to head to the sander and begin over again. 

The second attempt was 'closer’ but I still had issues. While the look I was seeking was 'almost’ there, the paint began lifting in places which looked bad:

It was back to the sander again, and after several hours of work, here is where I was with my painting:

But I was undaunted and determined. What I learned from the two previous mistakes was taken into account and I wound up changing my plan of attack completely. (I will talk about the details in the video.) After the first evening of painting, I had my background where I wanted it to be. I was happy. I knew I had a victory under my belt and I was really excited to continue on. 

Here is the finished background, as I showed you last time:

From here on, I knew it would be 'smoooooth sailing!’  The rest of the process was something that I felt good and comfortable doing, and it would be a pleasure to see if I could bring my vision of this project to life. 

I added a CAT:

(I know that may become as no surprise to you, but I really don’t paint THAT many cats – really!)  I also added the moon. I didn’t originally think I wanted a moon. It seemed kind of cliche. But in thinking through the way I wanted to have things laid out, it seemed to naturally go where I put it. Maybe subconsciously it was my intention all along. In any case, it now had a moon. ;) 

From then on it was pretty easy. I based out the pumpkins where I wanted them to be:

… painted in the undertones … 

… and started the shading … 

I had a fabulous evening of enjoying my painting time. By midnight or so, I was pretty much done with this part of the painting:

I am happy. :D

Ah – but it isn’t done yet. There are more surprises to come. I will be doing some things to really make it special and even better – and even throw in a nice little variation as well.

(Did I ever say how much I LOVE my job?) 

I hope you enjoyed seeing this little step-by-step demonstration. I want to show most of all that these things are easy to do. No great skill was required to create this cute painting. Just a little patience and some familiarity with some easy techniques. 

I invite you to stay tuned and stop by to see the finished project in the next post. Better yet – join Toletown and paint it yourself. You will be amazed how fun and easy it is to create! 

Have a wonderful Wednesday! 

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