Ebb & Flow Workshop with Kae Pea

Flow with whatever may happen and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate.
~Zhuangzi

 

Welcome. 

Thank you for being here. I am so honored to be able to share art and ideas with such creative and like minded souls. It is really a special and sacred thing to be able to share something that I love so much.

It is, of course, very purposeful that the tile of this class is Ebb & Flow. I wanted to convey the idea of the tide and of the movement of water. It seemed very fitting for a watercolor class. (And extra fitting that The Moon is what pulls the tide!)

Even more than just word play, I wanted to address the creative process and the concept that the creative process is much like the tide. 

If you are at all like me, then you have had moments in your life of feeling less than creative. Or times when you thought your muse had left you. Times when you have sat down to paint or journal or draw or write and nothing would come. Maybe you felt defeated, scared or had thoughts that you had lost 'it' or maybe never even had 'it' to begin with.

Often, in the past, I felt that if I was not creating or producing work, then I must not be a 'real' artist. Something was wrong with me. I was blocked. I was no good. I questioned my abilities and my talent. I lost sight of the joy of creating and my artistic spirit was held hostage by the fact that I was not able to produce in the moments when I thought I 'should' be able to. 

It has taken me years of going through these cycles of doubt and fear, of feeling like I wanted give up, of judging myself too harshly. These feelings and frustrations, in part, led me to go to college at age 41 to seek my degree in art and still it was not a cure for what ailed me. After graduating at 45, I had to continue on this course I set and keep exploring on my own, to finally come to the plain realization that the times of inability to create, were nothing more than the ebb of the creative tide. Once that became clear (through paying attention to these cycles), there was nothing more to it. Doubt and fear completely lost its power. The thing about the ebb is that without it, there can be no flow!

Once you come to terms with that, there is no more pressure or stress. The ebb is just a necessity. Like inhaling and exhaling. It just becomes what it is. Nothing more than the spaces in between. Resting, gathering space that leads back to the steady flow of creativity and productivity. 

The only thing left for you to do once you are onto this whole ebb and flow thing, is to become aware of your patterns and habits. What things pull you away? What pushes you to create? What inspires you? What times of day or night do you feel most creative? What time of month? Where is your favorite spot to think about creating? Is making art a priority to you? How do you answer the creative call? What sort of things float your boat? 

When you answer these questions, you will no longer be intimidated or negatively affected by the time you spend not creating. You know that your art and creativity will come again, just as the tide always returns to the shore.

I know a few of you have said you will not be able to start with us on day one or have expressed concern that you will not be able to 'keep up' and I am here to reassure you that it is perfectly okay. The whole idea of this class and the way it is set up, is meant to work with your time frame and schedule and creative flow. There is no pressure and no stress. You can view the videos anytime and as often as you like. I am here to answer questions or give my humble opinion or advice. And always to encourage you in your quest for artisitic knowledge and expression.

I love that you are on this boat with me. Let's get flowing!

xokp

 

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We begin our exploration with a couple of warm up exercises and little watercolor painting demo and talking about "saved whites". I thought this was a good place to begin because for those of you who do not know about saving whites, it is important and for those of you who do know, then you know it is aways a technique and concept that can use more mastering. If you look at some of these amazing watercolor artists such as Carol Carter, Carrie Waller or Chris Beck (to name just a few), you will see how important the saved whites of the paper are. Saving your whites is much different than painting with white paint or lifting color out. It, not only, allows space where your eyes can 'rest' but it helps your art glow in a way that only leaving the original surface of the paper, untouched, can achieve. 

You can save your whites by using masking fluid or just avoiding adding water and/or paint to specific areas of your painting, as you will see in this simple leaf painting demonstration. 

If you are decide to explore using masking fluid, keep in mind that you do not want to use a good brush to apply it. I recommend using an inexpensive brush. *A little tip is to saturate your brush in liquid dish soap before dipping into your masking fluid. This will make it possible to easily wipe out the fluid from your brush with a paper towel after you have finished applying it. Save your brush and use it *only* as your masking fluid brush. 

Make sure your masking fluid is thoroughly and completely dry before applying your watercolor washes to your paper. It is not recommended that you use any kind of heat setting to speed up the drying process as it can cause the masking fluid to become permanently adhered to your paper surface. Then be sure your paint is also thoroughly and completely dry before removal of your dried masking fluid. You can use your finger or a rubber cement pick up to gently rub away and peel up the masking fluid to expose your saved whites!


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For our second warm up, I asked on our Facebook page, that you paint 3 squares on a page. I was not specific in my prompts and it really didn't need to be exactly 3 'squares'. I really should have said, "blocks of color" or "shapes" instead of 'squares'. The idea behind this exercise is just to get some water and paint on the paper and to not really focus or think too much about composition or subject matter. If you would prefer to do rectangles or circles or some other shapes than that is perfect too. It is also helpful if you just choose a few of your favorite colors to work with, as your main objective is to explore the saturation of your hues and get familiar with the amount of water to paint ratios. I highly recommend doing this exercise repeatedly so you can play with things like wet on wet, wet on dry, color partnerships and experimenting with textures which we will explore further in upcoming weeks.

These exercises lead to this playful abstract.....

Look for the video(s) on this exercise later in the week!

Until then, stay in the flow!

xokp

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Here is my 'warm up' painting 'squares' exercise.

As you can see, they are not really squares, but rather, blocks of color.

This is not only a fun and relaxing exercise but it serves many purposes.

It is a great way to explore your all of your materials. It is a great way to play with color choices and mixing and to experiment with how wet or dry you like to work. It also is the foundation for lots of the art I have created like this:

and this:

this:

and even this:

I feel that not only will you enjoy this exercise and process but it will allow you to get a 'feel' for your washes and layering your watercolors. I highly recommend doing this many times, especially if you get new or different paper, brushes or paint or just whenever you feel like playing or 'building blocks'!

Have fun and flow baby!

xokp

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May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.” 
~Rainer Maria Rilke

The week we use our puddles, swishes of color and 'buliding blocks' to create some simple, illustrative paintings.

That is why I refer to last weeks lessons as 'building blocks'. I think of them as foundations to turn the simplest elements into clever and creative designs. 

I enjoy these exercises not only because I find it fun but because it is also a challenge to see what I may come up with out of such simplicity.

Here and as you will see in the video demonstration, I have taken the simplest and most basic stroke of paint and turned it into these fine feathers. 

and then with a twist and a different color palette:

here a little variation by simply change the color and the shapes up a bit:

and now the change of the backgrounds and some cast shadows for a completely different feel and look:

and again shifting the shape, yet the 'building block' is the same:

Continue to push yourself to explore what you can create by making a simple splash of color. I cannot wait to see what you come up with.

Go with the flow!!

xokp

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These past few months have really taught me something about creative flow. Just when I thought I really had a deep understanding of creative flow. Life came upon me and threw me for a loop!  

I am super happy to be here sharing art with you once more and getting back to the swish of the brush. I hope you enjoy thhis weeks lesson and thank you all for your patience, support and understanding. 

This weeks art is based largely on the color blocks like we created in past lessons. I used High Flow and Airbrush acrylic paints. I used them in a watery and washy way to create a whimsical and loose abstract painting. 

You may wish to try these paints or you can use traditional watercolors or fluid acrylics to achieve a similar effect.

This painting was completely intuitive and I did not set out with an image in mind. I only knew I wanted to play with a bright color palette and I set out with a "feeling" I wanted to convey, rather than imagery.

After I felt the painting part was finished, I then used some stamps and a black Pitt pen to add a few more doodles to unify the piece. 

I mounted the paper onto a cradled birch panel and painted the sides with black gesso.

I am happy with the outcome. Although it was not the outcome I really cared about. It was getting the chance to exercise my creative muscles again! Yeah Baby! Let's FLOW!

xokp

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“May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.” ~Rainer Maria Rilke

When I began conceptualizing the idea for this class. I knew I wanted to teach techniques with water media because I love watercolor so much. When I am not using watercolor, I find that I tend to use my acrylic paints in a very similar manner. With all of the other mediums that lend themselves to this loose, washy style, I knew that these were things I wanted to share and show and talk about. But I knew there was more to the dialogue too. I wanted to open a conversation about the push and pull of our creative practice. Because, for me, it was a long uphill battle getting to the point where I felt that it was not only okay to practice art but also to BE an artist. And then once I got to that point, where I felt comfortable in the times when I WASN'T creating. For most of my life, I didn't believe I was a "real" artist. Then, just when I realized that I am indeed. I felt like I lost "it" if I wasn't being creative. 

This past few months (my ebb) was wonderful because it showed me that my art and creativity would wait patiently while I tended to other things. 

I don't know how many of you have had doubts and fears such as I have, but I imagine that I am not the only one. (Us artists have a lot in common, including some common issues with self-defeating thoughts and that awful inner critic that likes to keep us on the negative side of humble!) 

I am hoping that through this class and our time together, you not only learn a few fun techniques and materials but also that you learn that it is just as good for the creative spirit to ebb as it is to flow.

This last couple of months when I was focusing on other things (important life things) was challenging but it sure made me appreciative of time back in my studio and it also gave me fresh eyes and thoughts. A bit of ebb will do that!

Of course, staying in the flow as often as possible is important too and I am surely glad to get back to a schedule that includes more time to devote to my creative practice.

I do feel that making art every day is important but just want to reassure you all that during the times when it is just not possible, that it is okay and that it does not diminish you as an artist.

I was really into the abstract painting with High-Flow acrylics last week and thought I would do another for you with a bit of a twist.

I hope you enjoy it and it inspires you to break out your paints and water and splash around a bit!

Flowingly Yours,

xokp

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Hello Again! Fancy meeting you here! :)

If you may enjoy sketching a quick 'portrait' and then giving it a little watercolor wash, then you have come to the right place!!

In this weeks video, I get flowing again (yay!) with a bit of traditional tube watercolors and a piece of postcard size watercolor paper.

I just wanted to create a small whimsical portrait in order to get 'warmed up'.

I hope that you will make your own splash and give it a go too.

Here are some samples of this weeks 'demo' and warm up:

The materials for this demo:

So as you probably can see (I hope!) I had a lot of fun just playing around. As I have said before, treating these as "exercises" really helps loosen you up. I know that I often feel a bit nervous as I approach a blank piece of paper or canvas, so doing a bit of warm up and experimentation often is very helpful and can lead to some very cool spontinaity too!

Hope you enjoy this video and watch for the next, more in-depth lesson very soon!

Thank you all again, so much, for sticking with me throught the ebb!!

xokp

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“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”
~ Frida Kahlo

Welcome to the last "official" lesson of Ebb and Flow! I say "official" because, since I have decided to keep the class open forever, I plan on this being a portal to share more creative flow with you all in the future.

It really is ironic that I named this class "ebb and flow". When I set out I had no idea how my life would take twists and turns and make creating nearly impossible for me for a few months (months that I NEEDED to be creating!) It was as if I needed to learn my own lessons. The chaos and challenges (though positive) that I went through during this time was tremendous. And though I was not able to 'stay on course' or be 'in the flow' the way I wanted to, it really showed me that even though we may not be actively creating, we ARE still creative. We ARE still flowing. It is not an act, but a state of being and THAT is what is important. 

So for those of you who may think (at times) that you have lost your muse or that life is just too busy and you have no time to create. Just keep your passion on the back burner, on a slow simmer and the time and place will come back around. I promise.

As for this lesson, it is not exactly as I had envisioned. I did not set out or plan on painting Frida specifically. I wanted to do a portrait with you, that much I knew. Frida is just what flowed out at that particular moment. I had also 'set out' to do more of a mixed media piece but that didn't happen either. Showing me, once again, that going with the flow is really important. I ended up just loving the peice as a straight watercolor and not wanting to 'push it' further with any other mediums. So I hope you will not be disappointed to witness me changing my mind in mid-stream!

I do not expect you to paint a Frida portrait (although, of course feel free to!) Again, it is not about copying what I do or my imagery and I have no expectations of you one way or the other. Maybe you love Frida as an image, maybe you don't. I want you to paint what you are passionate about. By now you know me well enough (I hope) to know that my only desire is that through my lesson(s) you will be inspired, learn a new technique or that I help make you feel or see something in a new light.

I have truly appreciated every post, comment and idea we have shared together.

I hope you enjoy this lesson and it gets your ideas and your paints flowing!

xokp

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