These two pictures represent a technique I’d never tried before, but often admired. It’s called negative painting. I’ve often admired this technique – but never understood how to do it until a recent lesson in Mark Mitchell’s How to Be A Children’s Book Illustrator. It involves painting in layers from behind. There are also videos on YouTube that teach this
Sometimes it’s scary to try something new. I tend to be a perfectionist which often intimidates the creative flow. Too often I procrastinate starting a piece of work because I’m tentative about color selection, or placement of characters, or successfully capturing a moment. Yet if you set a piece of paper and crayons or paints in front of a child they start to draw before you can say Dr. Seuss. They are not inhibited by worrying about the appearance of the final drawing, they just embrace the opportunity of expression and excitement of creating.
Changing goals at my age I often hear myself saying, What if I fail? What if other people think I’m foolish? It’s taken me a while to answer myself, “So what? At least I’m trying.” Winston Churchill once said, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” And another of my favorite quotes is, “You always pass failure on the way to success,” from Mickey Rooney (now don’t pretend you’re too young to know who he is).
Part of the process of becoming a published writer or illustrator is going to be accepting rejection (not something I do well). As a former school principal I often had to take an unpopular stand and was not always liked by a student(s) or even a parent. But Art and writing are more personal, and are always subjective. Not everyone will like what we do. That’s okay. Some people prefer a Picasso to the Mona Lisa and Gone with the Wind author, Margaret Mitchell received 38 rejections before being published. Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit was rejected 6 times, so she self-published (and you thought self-publishing was a new idea!). She was finally published by the London firm of Frederick Warne & company and according to them Beatrix Potter’s stories “have never lost their popularity. Today more than two million Beatrix Potter books are sold every year worldwide – which is four books every minute!”
So failure or rejection might happen but it is just part of the process. And if you receive a rejection letter HURRAH – it means you’ve submitted something and you’re on the pathway to success. (Myself- I’m hoping to have something to put in the mail before the end of the year–it may be rejected but it might not.)
I encourage you to determine today to learn a new way to try writing or painting or illustrating. Be adventurous. Join a writing group, an art class, or a critique group for the support, encouragement, and accountability. My critique group made suggestions for improvement on both of these paintings and it didn’t even hurt.
So- why not help me out and any readers and leave a comment on HOW YOU SPARK YOUR CREATIVITY?
Blessings on your day!