Getting started with first layers!
“The only joy in the world is to begin.” – Cesare Pavese
You guys. Our first demo tutorial! Super excited.
The only things you’re going to need is your hands, paint, spray bottle, and a brayer. That’s it! Hello ease. Before we dive in, I want to mention that the canvases we’re working on at this stage are our practice canvases. They will not be our final pieces, so please be sure to let all those pressures go. I like to call them “playground canvases” because that’s what they are – canvases in which to play and practice and go wild on! This part of the course is about unleashing our joy for a reason! And that’s what we’re going to do with our playground canvases.
I want to talk about setting an intention before we dive into the video tutorial….
You’ll hear me say in the demo video that my intention was to give myself permission to play and stay unattached. You’ll hear Lynx say that her intention was to allow herself to shine and to have fun.
Throughout this course, but especially in these beginning stages, I want to encourage you to be quite intentional about harnessing your inner playful spirits and let her/him take the driving wheel – more on this below in the “let art out, let love in” section of this lesson. It can be quite intimidating to face a blank canvas, and the very best way I’ve learned to dive in is with an energy of absolute, child-like joyful play. No attachments. No vision. No plan. And no expectations for how you want it to turn out. The second we begin to attach a plan to our paintings, especially during these beginning layers, is the second our creative spirit is no longer free to PLAY with abandon. We’ll dive deeper into this process as we move along in the course, but for now I just want you to practice letting your inner child take the wheel in those moments when you can feel yourself getting tense.
SO. With that in mind, please be sure to check in with yourself before you dive in and create an intention before your painting session. Give yourself permission to play. To have fun. To unleash your joy!
Write your intention down before you start painting. Put it on a post it note or scrap piece of paper (or even write it on your hand, or wrist!) and place it nearby while you paint. Breathe in its message as you dive into your canvases and let it be a reminder to yourself during those time when you start getting pulled out of your center. By the way, feel free to share photos of your post-it note or on-your-body intentions with your classmates. That would be super fun and motivating, no? Scroll down for ways on how to share.
Needs some help choosing an intention for today’s lesson? Here are a few options to consider:
Also, don’t forget to set the scene for your creative play. A nurturing creative space is critical, even if it’s a teeny tiny space in the corner of your bedroom!
Ok! Let’s dive in!
Watch the demo video:
Color mixing & choosing colors:
Be sure to head on over to the lesson on choosing colors and color mixing, if you haven’t already! It’s incredibly important to choose colors and color combinations that delight you, and I’ve got some great tips on how to do just that over in this post .
When you are playing with your drippies, I would recommend choosing either warm or cool colors to start with as we did in the video. If you try to drip a cool color with a warm color, it’s likely you’re going to get mud. Tip: Once your warm color drippies dry, then try layering cool color drippies over them and vice versa. Have fun layering drippies on top of drippies!
Similar to drippies, I would recommend choosing either warm or cool colors to start with so that you can avoid getting mud. Once your first layer of colors is dry, then try layering more colors with your brayer. Have fun with this!
Smooshies + color inspiration:
Don’t want to get your fingers and hands covered in paint? No problem! Just use latex gloves. Also, highly recommend referring to a color inspiration reference (like a postcard, greeting card, piece of fabric, etc) when smooshing paint around – 100% allowed and encouraged.
Have fun building on your techniques:
As you move from playground/practice canvas to canvas, be sure to build upon what you’re learning. Totally fine (and encouraged) to create some canvases that incorporate drippies AND brayer moves AND smooshing paint around. The trick is to have fun and totally unleash your joy on these playground canvases. Go, go go!
What shows up on the canvas, is also an opportunity for growth, possibility, and all things love-filled in our lives off the canvas. It’s so much deeper than just painting a canvas!
Unleashing Your Joy:
“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” – Pablo Picasso
I want to explain why I’m calling this part of the course “Unleashing Your Joy” and what that actually looks like.
You know how most of the time your adult self is in the driver’s seat? You’ve got a job, responsibilities, bills to pay. You’ve got mature relationships to cultivate, heal, and grow. You’re problem solving, putting out fires, having important conversations. You’re self aware, nurturing your inner life with books, inspiration, ideas. You’re a caregiver, tending to people in your life who depend on you, and generally navigating a big world. In just about every minute of our everyday lives our adult selves are in the driver’s seat. If we’re lucky, the windows are down, the music is on, and the roads are smooth. But even in our best case scenarios, we’re holding it all together as we adults are expected to do.
Sometimes, when I’m in fear or anger, my adult self hops into the backseat and my inner child self takes the wheel for a bit. And I can tell you that fear and anger are not generally good times for my inner child to be driving the bus. There are meltdowns, unproductive arguments, gremlins, poor decisions, and more. One of my biggest life lessons has been to recognize when my child self is in the driver’s seat (usually causing all sorts of havoc), and then to gently talk to her, tend to her, assure her that all is going to be okay, while kindly escorting her to the backseat. My adult self then regains control of the driver’s seat, fully capable of handling overwhelm, fear, and anger in ways that aren’t destructive or hurtful. Along the way, she glances in the rear view mirror at her child self and lovingly says, “I got you.”
We all have this kind of duality, these versions of ourselves that are tucked in the car with us.
Throughout our lives there are a few magical moments, however, when our lives invite us to allow our inner child to take the driving wheel. And creating art is one of those magical, beautiful moments.
I run a very busy successful business. Most of the time my adult self is most certainly driving the car when it comes to my art business. However, the second I’m at my studio table, my adult self is kindly asked to take the backseat while my inner child 100% takes control of the wheel. It’s essential, actually. Imperative. And 100% required.
Because it’s my inner child who will unleash her joy, make bold moves, be fearless on the canvas. It’s my inner child who has not yet learned that there are so-called rules to making art. She’s free, unconscious in her choices, extremely curious, open, and most of all she is having loads of fun splashing paint everywhere. She knows what delights her, and moves on quickly if she’s not having fun. She doesn’t mind making a mess. She is intuitively creative, inspired, and has imagination! And she’s not attached to making a “perfect” masterpiece.
Unleashing your joy is about making a conscious decision to put your inner 6-7-8 year old self into the driver’s seat and put your adult self in the back seat for a bit. And that’s what I want you to do, not just for this lesson, but for all of Part 2. Invite your inner child, that part of yourself that is brilliant at accessing your deep curiosity and joy, and let her take the lead.
“Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.” – Edgar Degas
There will be lots of resistance and friction along the way as your controlled adult self fights to take the wheel, but just like with anything, it’s takes practice. And the fruit of all that practice? Not just brilliant paintings, but a ton of lessons that come straight from the heart of our wise, beautiful inner child selves.
Q: How do I clean my tools like my brayer and paintbrushes?
A: Ah, yes, clean up. I simply wash my brushes and brayer and other tools with water. Sometimes I just let the brayer get really bumpy with dry paint and then peel it all off once the paint is dry. Be sure to wash your stamps along the way if you are using paint instead of ink so that the paint doesn’t dry on the stamp.
Q: I have some soft body Liquitex paints, some Golden Fluid acrylics, and just plain craft paint. What’s the difference between all these paints?
A:Other than the craft paint not being as archival as the others, you can totally blend them all together and have fun. The fluid acrylics are great for layering because they are more transparent than the others, so once you start layering them you will get gorgeous results. Here is a FANTASTIC run down of all the different kinds of paints. Be sure to scroll through the entire page to get to the Q+A.
Below are the specific supplies that we used in this lesson, but be sure to head on over to the big ol’ supply page for a lot more details and more information!
**Special note about paint color links: Below you’ll find the colors that both Lynx and I used in the demo. I’ve included the specific name of each paint color, and whether it’s a fluid acrylic or soft body. The links, however, will take you to a page that lists ALL the colors, so be sure to refer to the paint color noted below. **
- Canvas Boards
- Wood Panels
- Canson Disposable Palette
- Butcher Tray Palettes
- Spray Bottle
- Watercolor Paper
- Cadmium Yellow Fluid Acrylic
- Baltic Blue Soft Body
- Teal Fluid Acrylic
- Turquoise Phthalo Fluid Acrylic
- Vat Orange Fluid Acrylic
- Green Gold Fluid Acrylic
- Nickel Azo Yellow Fluid
- Fluorescent Pink Soft Body
- Naphthol Crimson Soft Body
- Hibiscus Soft Body
- Deep Magenta Soft Body
We want to see your playground canvases!
Share your journey with us! Here are some fun ways you can join in the fun that is our lovely and amazing community:
1. Share photos of your playground canvases, your post-it note or on-your-body intentions, selfies of you, your painted up hands, your work table (let’s see those joyful messes!), and more on Instagram or Twitter using hashtag #hellosoulhellomantras. Search that same hashtag to find your fellow classmates.
2. Share your progress and photos to our private Facebook group.
3. Leave a comment here in this lesson, sharing what you’re learning, links back to your social networks so that classmates can find you!
4. Need help on how to do any of the above? Head on over to our Community Page where all is explained in further detail!
Thank you guys! If you have any questions about the demo, leave them in the comments and I’ll be sure to address them.
Please make as many practice canvases as you’d like with today’s techniques. Have fun and practice letting your inner child take the wheel!
Here’s to unleashing our joy, together…..
Is the brayer you’re using rubber or foam? Thanks.
Hi Anne! The brayer in the video is rubber, but you can use whatever kind of brayer you like! Totally up to you.
Did you gesso the canvas first??
I almost always gesso my canvas first, but sometimes I use/purchas panels that have been pre-gesso’d. I hope that helps!
I’m enjoying this process with my kids (15, 13, and 11) it is fascinating to see how free they are in their creation and how controlled I am. Even when I commit and practice freedom, my judgement holds me back. Having them alongside me has helped me see those invisible boundaries and try again in a more free space. Note to self – let go of control!!!! Great personal learning!
Could not agree more!
I can hear the audio, but can’t see any of the videos. I’ve tried everything recommended for Vimeo.
Sorry you’re having trouble. Pls shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can help you.
I am finding out that the Golden paint acrylics work much better then the other brand of paints such as Folk Art, Martha Stewart etc. I I bought more Folk Art, Martha, etc. brand of paints being that it was more affordable. The consistency of the Golden is more liquid. I had a hard time with the drippies using the brands besides Golden. Is there anything I can add to the off brand paints that I already have to make it the right consistency?
Thanks for your time!
I have always had such an issue with “I’m wasting my materials!” when things didn’t turn out, which eventually led to not even starting a project. Through the process of revealing my mantras I’ve discovered I had the power to let that go and rediscover a need to play. I took my prettiest post-it notes (little pink heart shaped paper) and wrote ” You Can’t Get It Wrong.” And I didn’t!
Love this, Melanie!
I am so proud of myself! Not necessarily of my canvases, but I am totally covered with paint. Like, on my hands and brayer handle and paint bottles and stuff. Like a kid. OMG, it’s even behind my fingernails. And I’m not freaking out and cleaning everything. Bye – going back for more.
Go Sheree. I believe you are UNLEASHING YOUR JOY!
That was tons of fun, thanks!
Thanks for taking this process slow. It helps to break into the product phase easier. I find that I add way too much paint to the small canvases. I’m used to working on bigger ones. But I’m also so eager to move onto products that I have a hard time spending time on this type of activity. My impatience can sometimes get the best of me. 🙂 I’m working on slowing down and enjoying the process. 🙂
Thanks for this.
Diane O, have you heard of Invisible Glove? It is a lotion you put on your hands to protect them from the paint. I find that the paint washes off pretty easily after I use it.
I just completed my first layer on four canvases. I guess I am the tortoise of the class! : ) I’m so happy that we have access for six months. I started this course while still finishing up Flora Bowley’s Bloom True course, so I’ve been a little crazed…happy but crazed!
I am finding that I need to loosen up considerable before beginning. I am thinking of getting a large pad of newsprint so I can just scribble page after page until I have really released any tension. Found myself clenching my jaw today when I started and that certainly isn’t supposed to happen during play time! Letting go of the need to control has been such an issue, this course will really help me in that regard! Thanks, Kelly Rae, I am loving this!
Grace, I know you’ll find your way. Loosening the grip is some of the hardest work we’ll ever do.
Loved making my first canvasses, once I felt the pain on my hands I just used my hands. Wonderful. Just wish I had bought more canvas boards and stopped sooner. Going to do some more, feels fabulous.
So glad, Kim! Keep going!
I loved my results with the brayer, but when I used the spray bottle, it just dripped mostly water down. I used craft paint. Was it too thick to run down too? Should I thin with water before doing this?
This was fun! I usually do realism, and have been wanting to break free for forever. This is the perfect class. Thank you Kelly!
It sounds like the craft paint might be a little too thick. I would try putting on a really thin layer OR watering down the paint a bit before you put it on your canvas. So glad you are breaking free!!!
Got it. Experimented, had too much water, added more paint til it dripped the way I wanted. Ooops, forgot to spray once, and found the drips came down even in size and almost space. Then I did a new piece with it just the way I liked, and flipped it around, doing a bit on 4 sides….loved it! I guess you just play until you like it…then remember it. I’ve done them on watercolor pages to fit into my journal. I can make notes on the backside….unless I decide to add more layers!
Okay..did the projects. Learning. Need thinner paints…and trouble getting paints off of my fingers. I used blue, green, and yellow. I’m shaded. Yeah…I think I will use gloves or foam brushes. And I just looked down at my hands and… I need to put my rings back on. But it WAS fun. Will do another group to find out how it works with more fluid paint.
Do you dilute the craft acrylic paints with water or something else??
Diane, diluting the craft paints with water will definitely help, but I’m so glad it was fun for you!
Just did a run through with the video, no painting yet. But I must admit that I do a painting class (with water soluble oils) with residents at a nursing home. At the end, sometimes I have a lot of paint left over on the plates, and I hate to throw it out. So I just throw it on a canvas, til all the paint is off the plates. Sometimes we look at the “paintings” seeing each something different, but loving the results! I even had a resident ask me if he could do a painting like that…and at the end added some trees because it looked like a forest/lake scene. He was quite pleased. It went so quickly, and he had fun.
Diane! I love your story about using the left over paints! I bet you get a lot of amazing and creative images out if it! And it sounds like you make the residents day!
Got crazy and was fun. Watering down my acrylics is interesting.