Photo by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash

Feb 2022: I believe that practice makes perfect BUT practice without learning is useless. You won’t progress if you are doing things just for the sake of doing it. Keeping that in mind, it should be “Practice with Concious Learning makes Perfect”. This month I am applying that in my art exploration and learning about textures.

How it started

I have a project in mind that I want to implement but I was afraid to do it. This project involves incorporating different kind of styles and techniques and, honestly, I don’t know where to start. 

So I decided to list down the techniques that I need to learn and start small paintings that will allow me to practice. I have 2 things that I need to learn:

  • Light and Shadow
  • Textures

Light and Shadow

My oil painting that involves light and shadow

I started with light and shadow and studied ChiaroScuro. That research led me to start a black and white oil painting of a tiger. You can read my experience in this article.

Textures

Next stop, textures. In the project that I had in mind, I wanted to have a 3D flower. I was searching through youtube and I stumbled upon scuplture painting. 

Scultpure Painting Youtube Video from A&F 에이앤에프

I thought, “Wow this is exactly what I need!”. I watched a lot of videos about it and I learned that I need a sculpture paste to be able to create the 3D flower. Hmmm… I was hesitating because I do not want to buy a material that I would probably use for just one project.

I continued my research and learned that I could create my own sculpture paste. “Amazing!” I said to myself. This is a good way to practice because there is a cheap and easy way to create my own paste.

My first sculpture painting

My first sculpture painting

I tried it and it was a disaster! Scultpure painting is not easy to do. This technique requires a lot of control in the consistency of the paste and in the motion of my wrist when forming a petal. I was not able to produce the quality of work that fits my standard. I need a lot of practice and with that I lost my motivation to pursure this technique.

But I do like the paste and I was thinking that I could experiment and maybe create a 3D flower in a different way.

The texture paste

The ingredients of the DIY texture paste is a combination of starch, glue and acrylic paint. Much like asian cooking, I do not have the exact measurement of the recipe so I have different results whenever I make it. By accident, I created a marshmallow like goo and I was in love with it!

Lots of ideas flowed into my head and I quickly created a project that I could do to incorporate this paste.

The structure of the paste was silky smooth and because of that it inspired me to create a painting of the ocean with waves in it. Incorporating this paste as a wave or a sea foam would be perfect. I practiced my idea in a small magnetic canvas and it looked great!

Ocean Wave Series

Since I am practicing art with concious learning. I want this Ocean Wave project to be a series. The idea for the project would be to represent the levels of improvement of my practice as I work through it. My process would be as follows:

  • Paint the Ocean Wave on a canvas
  • Critically Assess the painting
  • Apply the feedback and criticism on to the next on.

The Ocean Wave Project would be a 3 part series that will show 3 levels of my progress using the textures I’ve created.

Ocean Wave Level 1

I wanted to keep it simple and I want the texture to be the star. So I got this reference photo from Pinterest and tried to do an abstract version of it.

Photo grabbed from Pinterest

It was a quick painting session. I started painting the canvas with light blue and pink. I blended the 2 colors in the middle with white so that I know where to put the paste. I prepared the paste and added it in the canvas. The final result looked like this:

It was okay… I was generally happy with it. I wanted an abstract ocean wave and I thought I got it. I liked how the waves were formed and I see movement. So, for me, it was a job well done! But…. with improvements.

In my next attempt, I want to improve the following:

  • I want to add texture to the sand and to the water
  • I want a clear separation when blending the water and sand.
  • I want to add depth into the canvas. There’s no shadow or any indication where the light is coming from.
  • I want a clear structure for the formation of the wave. So far, it feels like the wave is just smeared into the canvas and I let gravity do the work. haha!
  • I wanted to add color to the wave. It is too white. I want a little bit of the water or the sand to blend its color into the wave. Like a marbling effect.

So with this feedback, I moved on to my next attempt.

Ocean Wave Level 2

Photo grabbed from Google

For my next attempt, I want something like this. I want the middle to be a yellow sand surrounded by the blue ocean.

I prepared my canvas by added texture to the sand and to the ocean. I used a putty to get that sandy effect and I used a heavy body paint for the ocean. It ended up looking like this:

I let it dry and added my paint. I wanted the sand to be yellow-orange and the ocean to be blue. So the idea is that the color of the painting will mimic the 12noon to 3pm scenario in a beach. I want it be bright and active.

After painting and adding the texture, the final result looked like this:

I truly loved it! Somehow, with this, the level 1 painting looked like it was created by a 7 year old. This 2nd attempt has depth, more texture and it made sense. I felt like I was in a beach enjoying the sun while eating my lunch. It was awesome! I was very satisfied.

I started to critically asses my work and list down my improvements that I would like to add in my 3rd attempt. I want to add the following improvements:

  • I want a thicker texture paste. Somehow in this version, the paste was too runny that it ended up looking flat and loosing its structure.
  • I want shadows.
  • I want depth in the color of the ocean. There should be a dark part and a lighter one.
  • I want to lessen the marble effect in the wave. I hated that when I attempted to combine the color of the ocean and the sand to the wave, it turned green.
The wave turned green T_T

Ocean Waves Level 3

On my last attempt, I want to create something like this:

Photo grabbed from Google

I want to imitate the texture of a rock. I wanted more shadows so I thought a rock could give me what I want. I will also lessen the wave to give room for a darker/deeper part of the ocean.

The tricky part of this 3rd attempt is the texture of the rock. So far, I know how to create a marshmallow like texture. How am I going to create a rock texture?

Carving Clay

Since I am playing with starch and glue, I researched the other things that I could do with it. I learned that I could create an airdry clay with those same ingredients. I tried it out and I was able to create this:

Process video of me carving clay

Now, this was a revelation. The clay dried up and it started to crumble and it looked like dirt. I thought, I could combine this dirt like texture to a putty and create the rocks. I will use heavy body paint to create the texture for the ocean.

I was not able to take progress photos but the final result looked like this:

It was obvious to me that my focus on this painting are the rocks. I did put a lot of effort into adding the shadows and highlights and making sure that it looked like a real rock. I was happy with the results. I think I was able to achieve my goal.

I made a thicker texture paste for the waves in hopes that it will retain its structure. Unfortunately, just like the 2nd painting, the texture paste fell down and the waves didn’t form the way I liked it.

The ocean was good. I like that there are dark and light spots in the ocean, similar to what you will see in real life. I see movement as well and it works well with the waves.

Conclusion

This project took almost a week to finish. I was satisfied with the result and I was happy to see my progress. It was a successful series.

By the end of the day I learned a lot of things:

  • I learned that starch, glue and acrylic are a cheap way make a lot of different textures. It is similar to baking so it was not hard to experiement with these ingredients
  • I learned that assessing my work is a good to practice to expect improvements from myself.
  • I learned that applying your feedback to your next painting is a good way for me to not focus on perfection
  • I learned that I love textured paintings. It gives me the freedom to think of innovative ways on how to achieve what I want. There are no rules.

This was a very fun experience and I am excited to learn more in my art exploration next month!


Hope you had fun reading this, If you would like to see some of my work, please check out my pages: