After moving towards the family connection that I discovered and emerged with my previous painting, I started doing a lot of research about my Great Aunt. As I discussed in my previous posting, she taught at Manzanar during the war, and then worked for the Military as a teacher in the occupied zones of Europe in the years directly following WWII. She was stationed in Salzburg, Austria when she fell in love with Austria. Her entire life she considered Austria to be her home. In fact, her esate still owns the cemetary plot she originally wanted to use when she passed, but then she changed her mind. I think that another (perhaps future) 20 Time project could be to write a book about her life. It was fascinating, always on the move to teach in exotic locations for the children of military families.
Back to this painting. I wanted to paint the mountains of Salzburg, Austria. Having never been to Salzburg, the closest I've been is to spent the night in the train station in Vienna, I only know what the mountains look like from pictures and the movie, "The Sound of Music." I turned to Google to look at Austrian mountains. I decided to try and paint some mountains similar to what I saw when I looked up the Austrian Mountains.
The first thing that I did is to create the background because like building a house, the foundation is everything. It is also where I can practice what I learned in week 2 of the project, make sure you plan ahead and see the whole canvas. I wanted to have some snowy mountains and, since the Von Trapp (Sound of Music reference above) family lived on a lake, I wanted water. I painted the mountains, added snow and shadow, then decided to put another range in the foreground to add depth and the illusion of high peaks. From the images I've seen the Alps are massive, and I think that adding a range in the forground helps to add to that perslective of size.
In the other two oil paintings, I did ok up until this point. I am good at getting the foundation and central background together. This is where it usually falls apart. The last time was because I tried to make the paint stretch a bit further than it should have. I was not about to make that same mistake again. I purchased way more paint than I needed. I also ordered some really expensive canvas coating paint to help my colors blend and move along the canvas more easily.
I wonder what the ancient Egyptian artists did when they made a mistake? They didn't have oil paint, or any pre-treatments (that I have been able to find) for the tomb walls. They made their paint by grinding up minerals, and then mixing it with something like egg yolk or tree gum. Occasionally they would grind up the insides of insects to bind the powder together for their paint.
If I need to use a treatment for the canvas, am I "cheating" on the painting? Is cheating on a painting even possible? What would be considered "cheating" on a work of art? I think I worry about "doing it right" so much is because for most of my life I never thought I had any artistic talent, and as it turns out, I have a hidden natural talent. I sent a friend of mine who is a profesisonal painter and illustrator the finished version of this painting. She said that she could feel that I was more relaxed with this one. I am finding my own "swing" on the canvas.
Every Summer my family and Jon's would go to a lake and camp for a week. It was a YMCA family camp lake at Lake Sequoia. The lake has some distinctive features, including a foothill that creates an inlet into the lake. I'm sure many lakes have an inlet similar, but to me this one looks just like the one at Sequoia Lake. I wanted to re-create that part of the lake to make sure I put him into this painting.
I think that if my Great Aunt were still alive, she would enjoy my painting. I think it would remind her of her younger years in Austria. My next 20Time project is definately going to be to write a book about her life. I can illustrate it myself now!
The Sound of Music. (n.d.). Retrieved July 20, 2015.
I have learned that I am great at backgrounds, mountains, clouds, sky; but not so much at the front scenery.
Being a teacher on a budget, I tried my best to conserve paint. This was not a smart decision. When you try to extend oil paint, it doesn't stick to the canvas right. This created a problem for the technique to make the leaves on trees. A thin paint will stick to a thick paint.
For the darker background I put a small amount of paint thinner into the paint to help it stick to the canvas. It turned what should have been a dark red-maroonish paint into pink. The pink tint of the trees reminded me of some paintings I saw when I visited Manzanar Japanese War Relocation Center.
My Great-Aunt Martha taught 4th grade at Manzanar. She taught for a total of 42 years before the State of California told her that she wasn't allowed to teach anymore. So she ran for school board. She never let anyone she met forget that there was a time in our nations history when we decided to ignore the 4th, 5th, and 6th ammendments, and lock people in prisons because they looked like the enemy.
Like our book 20Time says, "Successful Projects evolve along the way." I never thought learning to paint would bring a connection with my Great Aunt. She had less artistic skill than me. I have spoken with some of her former students from Manzanar throughout the years, they would come for a visit and I would come over to listen. I met many more at her funeral. All of her students had a positive impression of her. Some told me stories, like the one hot day in June when she checked out the camp car, stuck some of her students in the trunk, drove about a mile away from camp, had the kids get into the back seat, and she took them for Ice Cream. I asked if she was afraid to get caught. She looked at me and said, "Ms. Shoaf said to act like we are doing what we are supposed to be, and nobody will question us." She was right, if you think about it. This is the 1940s, WWII is booming in the Pacific, there is a War Relocation Center 10 miles down the road, and a white school teacher has a marked War Department car and in the back seat are a bunch of Japanese students going into the Ice Cream Parlor. Nobody would think anything is out of place.
Back to my painting.
My notes for next time:
-Look at balance. The waterfall seems lopsided, if I adjust the placing of the lower shore it will look more natural.
-The trees on either side of the painting look less than Super-Fantastic.
-I also need to work on paint mixing. The colors are off. I also accidentally mixed some tree paint into the water on the bottom corners.
-I purchased some actual oil background paint. Perhaps this will help the next painting.
Anthony enjoyed his painting as well. His first day care taught him both Spanish and Mandarin. I didn't know he remembered any. You can barely see it, but on the easel he is painting Mandarin characters. He remembered that one of them is for "fire". He is opening my eyes to the learning process. His memory and recall of processed information is incredible. My experience with him makes me think that perhaps we are selling out students short and that they are capable of much more than we educators ask of them.
I have chosen to use Pinterest to collect my research for the 20Time project. I fought getting a pinterest account for a while. I don't know why, it just seemed like a wierd website. However, now that I have been using Pinterest and have visited some boards dedicated to education, I can see that it is really useful and has some awesome ideas.