My friend, Jenny, asked that I paint her a blue starfish. When, earlier this month, it became obvious that I was going to write about change, I decided this was her month! I chose a reference photo online.
[I associate Starfish with change because of their ability to regenerate limbs. It turns out scientists still don’t really know how they do this, so there was not much depth to the metaphor. The canoeing metaphor was much juicier…]
I painted a few star shapes to get the feel of it and then did an underpainting.
I did three drawing sessions with watercolor pencil. Because the underpainting didn’t exactly match the photo, I needed to make decisions about how the yellow leaf-like coral wrapped itself through most of the painting. The purple coral at the bottom left and the white coral next to it were easier to draw because I could just draw what I saw. I decided to simplify the background to feature the starfish.
- Use a plastic lid palette in future to mix paint. Painting directly from the paintbox (even if the color is right) makes it hard to control the paint-to-water ratio.
- Don’t use black watercolor pencil to make shadows. It’s easy, but harsh and uncontrolled.
- Again, I’m struck by how many small marks come together to create a composition. Just so, each choice in each moment creates a life.
- How much more interesting and beautiful these lumpy bumpy forms are than if they were machine-made smooth. Why do I persist in thinking an easy, smooth life would be beautiful?