1. It's fun to stand up and paint at an easel, to slam away with the brush for the background. For fine details, I like to sit on the stool.
2. When my right hand gets numb, the left hand works fine - at least for painting background.
3. Working to blend two colors of X's makes a nice background.
4. It helps me to channel Mike Strong, my artist friend in high school. Once we painted together and he kept saying, "Loosen up, Gail!"
5. Acrylic paint dries fast and is easy to paint over.
6. You can use your paintbrush a lot of different ways. If you press down and ease up, you should get something that looks like a blade of grass. This is hard for me. My grass looks like worms. A couple of painters at Splash Studio said, "That looks like the ocean." I figured maybe it was seaweed instead of grass.
7. If you start with a dark color and go over it with lighter colors and then return to the dark color, you get a feeling of depth.
8. When you paint, you are absorbed in the painting. You feel calm.
9. Proportion is important. And I haven't got it. We were supposed to paint a hummingbird. They gave us an example and said we could try to copy it or use it as inspiration for our own bird. One lady wound up with a blue jay. Boy did we all laugh together. I didn't want to copy their example exactly, but I would have liked my picture to resemble a hummingbird. The tail wound up too short; I'd like to go back and make it longer, which I could do actually.
This is the example they provided at Splash Studio.
10. The example at Splash Studio featured a series of balls along with the hummingbird. I didn't like the balls; I wanted something more nature-y. My daughter Anna (whose idea this was, a belated birthday outing for her) suggested that I could make white dandelion seed heads blowing in the wind instead of colorful balls. I did that. Then another painter said "That looks like bubbles."
11. You have to let the painting take you where it wants to go. This is like writing also. I've written two novels, and although they were based on true stories, they often took me where they wanted to go. My painting became a misshapen hummingbird in the ocean. Maybe it's a fish hummingbird.
12. You have to know when to stop. It's like writing. At some point, you just abandon it.
13. You can't be a perfectionist. Abandon it.
14. It's fun to sign a painting. I used "Marsha," my secret nature name.
By the time I signed my name, there was about as much paint on my hands as on my canvas. But I already knew that would happen...same thing happens when I paint a wall in the house. Anna's hands stayed clean.