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My Granddaughter Visits
This was a fun and playful phase. Most of my lions were at least in there, all settled, even if they had not been thoroughly developed. Two in particular lay there rather latently and I knew I would have to deal with them sooner or later, but I wasn’t worried about them. The colors were coming along. I know complementaries like the back of my hand and can correct any color into its total opposite, if I have to, so that was of no concern to me. Most parts of Daniel’s anatomy and the lions that had eluded me had been long since solved.
My client kept asking me, “Have you done the bones? Have you done the bones?” Well, no I hadn’t done the bones, but I had re-designed the whole drawing using the negative space function on the lower horizontal strip, so I knew they would fit. That didn’t worry me a bit. I had built up momentum and excitement.
Then I learned my baby granddaughter was coming to town. Well, five-year-old granddaughters trump any commission and any scale, if you know what I mean. Fortunately for me, my granddaughter loved to paint, so I knew I’d get to come to my studio where she never tired of the things to do in it, and get some much needed stroke work done on the canvas. Any amount of work you put on in one day helps take you leaps and bounds further the next.
I started her out in the student section with watercolors, which she began painting very eagerly, while I added and corrected the forms in the bottom strip of the painting. Soon enough, she
finished that station and wanted to join mine. I was not surprised. I decided to turn her loose with my paints, gave her a little instruction concerning the area she was to paint in, the brush strokes, and left her to it. I didn’t have to interrupt in terror or worry over it. She was quite skillful in her handling of the brush, in brush stroking, making movements with them like a professional with her left hand.
Colby was so immersed in her project that she did not speak. You can say she went into her right brain mode of working—where, as I teach my students—you are infinitely smarter than you are when you work in the showy left side of your brain.
I began by mixing the colors for her and handing them to her, knowing I could paint over what she had done if it were totally rough, but to my great surprise, her undercoats were excellent, and not blending as well as a more seasoned painter would did not deter me from proceeding. It also was not a deterrent in giving the painting what it needed at this point. Soon, as I gained confidence in her painting, I began to ask Colby what color she wanted in order to paint the bones, and she responded with many of the colors of the rainbow. I responded in kind, mixed them and presented them to her. She took them from me and painted with them, gaining more and more control.
Having said that, I must hasten to add that Colby could have mixed the colors as well. At five, she knows all of her primary and secondary colors and can tell you at the drop of a hat what they are.
Colby took her post quite seriously and painted in the designated spots, making circular motion sweeps or straight ones along the length of the bones quite naturally. The colors added into the bones were perfect tinting for their grey, lending them translucency, and I let a lot of that shine through any additional layers.
I was quite excited to see the painting moving along so nicely while still enjoying my granddaughter’s visit. At one point I looked up and saw how menacingly the snarling lion glared directly into Colby’s eyes, symbolically warning me to care and keep watch on her against the viciousness of evil in the world trying to engulf her. This is a wonderful image in the spirit of the painting to keep in mind for praying for my lovely gal. Not once did she show any fear of the image at all, a fact that increased my respect for her and her professional handling of the situation while yet so young.
“Oh, yes, you can!” I replied enthusiastically, loving that she so intensely desired this.
Nor did I say what rough times she would have. Everyone in every business has rough times. And who is more fulfilled than an artist who gets to do what they love every day of their lives?
So much for the lessons Daniel in the Lions’ Den gave us. I have the distinct feeling that not only my client would approve of the day, but that Peter Paul Rubens would peer down from a window in heaven and delight in the fact that a new artist was being birthed and encouraged over a work he had done millennia ago.