Last month, I was the lucky recipient of a big, beautiful easel. For painting. For painting paintings! Having only produced a few dozen paintings over the course of my fifty plus years, I thought I’d try to actually learn how to do it. Enter Sam Piyasena and Beverly Philp’s Just Paint It!
I’m an admittedly visual person, so I judged this book by its cover (and the extended title: the world’s most enjoyable painting course. Ever. ) and checked it out.
Graphically, the page layouts are fabulous. Simple headlines on every page. Brightly colored boxes that say, “Look Up” directing the reader to paintings and other works of art that exemplify what the author has written. It’s a joyful book with few inhibitions.
The chapter headings sound incredibly academic, so please don’t be turned off by them. “Composition and Space” reeks of intelligentsia. But the chapter contents include a wistful lesson in painting a story, painting negative shapes, and overpainting. One lesson is about the creation of a whole image from smaller, symmetrical pieces. It’s amazing how challenging – and fun! – it is to paint individual, separate pieces of a puzzle and turn them into an entire painting.
But the chapter “Pattern and Texture” most reinforced the notion that I have much to learn. I feel the most purely creative when I’m working and playing with mixed-media, and this chapter shared a foolproof technique for collage. Varying surface depths and textures is a great experiment, and I’ve had plenty of failures. Starting with a gesso primed board, Piyasena and Philp recommend PVA glue for the first layer of objects and/or images, followed by a quick coat of gesso underneath a layer of acrylic paint. Once the background is dry, repeat layer upon layer, juxtaposing images and a broad range of textures to create a finished product. All in all, a completely energizing piece of art can be created, without the worry that the lace you found at Goodwill is destined to fall off as soon as the picture is hung.
Other tricky tricks from the authors: how to create poured paint paintings, watercolor over wax, scratching, and finger painting. And of course, using unconventional materials, like ketchup, soy sauce, and pesto, as paint. Yum.
This fine book is available through the Metro Library Network.