On Monday I participated in the #swapitlikeitshot Blogger Flea Market Swap and came up with this:
Here is the ugly ‘before’:
This painting didn’t have any textural brush strokes, so it made it a good candidate to paint over. Instead of using chalkboard paint, I chose to go with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Graphite. I didn’t want to create a chalkboard and I knew that chalkboard paint (at least the kind I have) doesn’t have great coverage and would require a couple coats. Additionally, I wanted to create subtle texture with the coat I was painting on, which is pretty easy to do with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. I simply left the lid off for a couple hours, to let the paint thicken, and then I painted over the canvas.
Then I went outside and gathered several leaves of all different colors and arranged them on my board:
At this point, I didn’t know what direction I was going to go for the final result, and I liked the ombre look, so I thought about drawing this whole scene. Can you even imagine? That would be a messy nightmare! I even thought about preserving them with wax paper or Mod Podge… but in the end I knew the color vibrancy would fade, so if I wanted to preserve the color, I would have to whip out my chalk pastels.
I decided to go for a ‘falling leaves’ effect, so I played around with the arrangement a little…
…until I decided on an arrangement I liked!
Then I started drawing the leaves with the chalk pastels. The good thing is, drawing from nature doesn’t have to be exact. You can exaggerate a little, as long as you play by the rules.
The rules? That you follow the general outline, make it look like a leaf, and use similar colors. The rest… the exact shading and color placement, and exact outline, doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s like The Nester says, “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful!” And it’s true!
Also my favorite tip for drawing in general and that applies for this as well: Don’t draw what you know. Draw what you see. Look for shapes. Don’t say, “I’m drawing a leaf,” because then you will end up drawing a general and rather cartoonish looking leaf (or that’s what most people do). Instead, think about the shape of the negative space, the shape of each pointy part of the leaf, even if it doesn’t seem to look “right” at first. Nature doesn’t always look “right” or ‘perfect’… that is what makes it nature! And when you realize that and embrace it, that is when your drawings start to look more real.
Chalk pastels smudge easily, so after I drew the leaves, I took a little black chalk pastel and outlines on some of the edges, not all the way around. Notice how that draws slightly more attention to those super dark or super light areas. It gives the effect of shadow, instead of an outline, which would look completely fake.
Once the leaves were drawn, I wasn’t sure whether to add a word to it or not. So I staged it, played around with placement, and started taking pictures…
It looked nice.. but something was missing to me. It wasn’t drawing me in enough. It took me nearly an hour of moving things around, photographing, and trying to get opinions of friends through text, before I decided, I need to move the orientation and add a word. I originally wrote in ‘fall’. But it seemed too obvious, as did ‘autumn’. About this time I decided to give the frame a coat of gold leaf paint, which I rubbed on with a piece of cloth.
Finally, ‘harvest’ came to mind and it just fit.
It is OKAY to not have a clear plan from the beginning when it comes to art. If you get frustrated, walk away for awhile, ask the opinion of a friend you trust.. one that will offer some helpful criticism if necessary. Get some perspective, then come back and try again.
If you are unsure of how to draw with and blend chalk pastels, take a look at the tutorial on How to Draw a Pumpkin by Craftberry Bush. That is where I got my inspiration from and I used the same method when creating the leaves!
Hopefully someone out there will give this a try and if you do, please let me know! I want to see it!
Allison @ The Golden Sycamore says
LOVE your chalkboard, Rachel! I wish I could draw like that! You are so talented!
This is adorable and what a great idea to reuse thrift shop uglies.