Saturday, August 14, 2010

Surprise!

Bonjour mes amis,

I. Give. UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, it's not what you think, I promise. See, there's this birthday coming up for a close friend of mine that I've been working my butt off the past three weeks or so to prepare for. He, however, is very observant and knows me like no other, so I was terrified he'd realize something was up and the surprise wouldn't be as special. But he also happens to be the person I go to to talk about things when I'm sad or angry or happy and excited! You see my dilemma here? So, now I'm going to proceed to rant about how amazingly wonderful it is, and if it's at all possible that you (you know who you are!) happen to read my blog, you'd best be clicking a new link before I count to 10. Or I will be unhappy. You don't want to make me unhappy, do you???



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Oh my goodness, so at first I had NO FREAKING CLUE what I was going to do to make your birthday special. I have limited options seeing as you live so far away, and I wracked my brain for all sorts of different ideas, and yet nothing seemed fitting. Then one night on Facebook, I saw you mention wanting to get a new tattoo, a phoenix with Celtic knots. My readers, you don't know this, but I am an artist at heart. I've been drawing since I could pick up a pencil, but the past year I haven't managed to at all. Sure, doodles in my notebook, but nothing serious. I lacked motivation. And then I saw it: a bright red and orange phoenix shooting towards to stars with flames trailing behind its wings and tail, with the Celtic knots built into the bird itself. But it HAD to be in color, and I'm absolutely awful with my color mediums like colored pencils, markers, crayons, etc.

I also have a friend who has discovered she, too, is very artistic at heart, although she's been doing a lot of painting. So I decided that's how I would go about this project, although I've honestly never done much in the way of painting. Once or twice in elementary school, really was it. However, I get my visual artistic side from my father and he's always loved to watch that side of me grow, so when I was visiting him, I explained how I had this amazing idea for my new painting and I started telling him all about the colors and the design and everything. It worked. We ended up walking to my favorite art store ever, Wet Paint, and ended up spending way too much on paint supplies. We decided to settle on acrylics since I was pretty new to painting and oils take much longer to dry, not even taking into account how expensive oils are! There was also a big sale on canvas, so I got a box of ten for a great deal. (I love my stockpile of canvas sitting in my room, it's like it's waiting for me to get another idea.)

So then it began. Prior to this, all I had was a rough sketch. When I got home, I began working on transferring my rough sketch into a clean sketch to put on the canvases. Yes, canvases. See, I didn't exactly mention to my father I was planning on giving away this huge project of mine, so I'm making two. Sort of. I'll get to how that ended up later! (Edit: I never actually get to it later. Sorry, it'll come in the second post with the pictures!) But both sketches were on the two different canvases, fully complete about a week after I had started, only a few days before it was time to go to my father's house again. It was a grueling task, and I remembered why I hadn't found any motivation to draw anything in the past year. It's become too much work and not enough play. But finally, I got to start working with the paints.

I had to experiment quite a bit to figure out what I wanted to do. I had grown up hearing my dad talk about how it's better to have lots of thin layers than one thick layer, so that's what I tried to do. It was a slow process, although less painful than the sketching. After I had finished painting the bird's head, neck, and majority of its body, I was struggling to figure out how to give it a feathered appearance. Then I remembered what the woman in the art store had said....

*Wavey flashback*

She was still standing behind the counter, talking about the big options regarding different paints, "And Acrylics have some texture to them, you can really work with the paint."

*Wavey flashback ends*

That was it! I threw out my father's advice about the thin layers of paint and started mixing more paint together to get a small pool on the plate to dip the brushes into. I applied the colors with thick brush strokes, a little like Van Gough's Starry Night, and then would smooth out the edges to give it a bit of a softer, less dramatic look. This way of painting was fun. In a way, I sort of had my own impressionism revolution by breaking away from the rules about art I've learned. I was jumping away from drawing even though I was good at it, I was ignoring what my amazing artist of a father told me about painting, and I did what felt good to me. And you know what? It showed.

Not only did the painting start looking much more awesome and artistic, but I worked on it much more often and for longer periods of time because it was enjoyable. I finished about two weeks after I started, and I had spent an estimated 13 hours painting. During the process, I'd gotten paint quite literally everywhere. I had it smeared across my palm and elbow, I had paint on both of my cheeks, on my shoulder, under my nails, on my thighs and all over my clothing, carpet, and pillow that I'd been sitting on. But it was so much fun.

And now? The painting is finished. I bought his birthday card on Thursday, and mailed the present off on Friday. The expected arrival date is the 19th, which is perfect. The 19th is a Thursday, so it gives them two days for error before it could be late since his birthday is the 23rd, the following Monday. I am SO EXCITED! I love surprises and I really hope he likes it. I've shown several people a quick shot of the painting I took on my phone, and they've all been rather impressed, so I have a good feeling about this. Now I just have to hold up a little bit longer. I'm so tired of answering "pretty boring" or "I worked on some projects (implying homework projects. I don't like to lie!) today" when he asks how my day went. The painting is currently "IN TRANSIT TO E. SYRACUSE, NY US" and it's just a matter of waiting it out. I can keep my mouth shut a little longer... just a little longer.

And thank you, for rekindling the sleeping bed of coals into a living, breathing, raging, artistic flame.

À demain,
Mlle Delphine

P.S. I'll post a couple pictures here after I know he's gotten the present.

2 comments:

French Bean & Coffee Bean said...

Très bien, Delphine! :-D

I'm sure your friend will love it because you put yourself into the project. Art is always a great way to express oneself. ^.^

Bonne chance avec le cadeau!

-French Bean

Delphine said...

Merci beaucoup! I really hope he likes it. :)

Et mon francais, j'ai besoin de l'utile! Mais pas ce soire, je dois aide ma mere. Mon message prochain, ce sera en francais completement... peut-etre.