Friday, April 23, 2021

You will not die of embarrassment.

 I recently took a zoom class with the wonderful artist Kelly Kynion through the Spencertown Academy Arts Center. The goal of the class was for students to paint a famous personality. I chose to paint Twiggy, the iconic British model from the 1960's. I had never painted Twiggy before, and so I did a fairly bad job. And that's exactly why I'm showing her to you!

My first problem is that I was not prepared with the right materials!  

I was working on cheap paper. It buckled and warped (as you can see.)

I've learned over the last couple of years that when it comes to the visual arts, materials are really important! Honestly, I never think about this with writing. I just sit back and type and forget about the "materials".

You don't have that luxury with art! This can be challenging, but also kind of forgiving. Hey, so what if my painting isn't so great! It's not my fault! It's the paper's fault! 

I have learned about keeping the watercolor and the paper wet while working and also about being patient and letting it dry. Kelly suggests we work on another painting while waiting the first one to dry.

Another key is knowing when to stop. I had a perfectly fine little painting of Twiggy and then I decided to shade the background and give her face contours. I couldn't resist. But, this is when my picture started to buckle.

Anyway, I shared my Twiggy with the buckled background and the funky shadows with the rest of the class, and do you know what? I did not die of embarrassment. Rather, I learned a good lesson about using appropriate paper, and about forgiveness. Oh, and everyone in the class, including Kelly, was so nice and encouraging!

This is how characters in writing work too. You think you've got them, you know them, and then they disappear. They look like someone else. Sometimes they actually BECOME someone else. And that's okay. In fact, that's how it should be.

Your creative prompt for this week is to paint or write about a character and let them escape your grasp and become someone you didn't expect.  

And here's a little prompt: Amelia Earhart.

Have fun!





  1. That is an amazing image Jamie!
    You nailed it. Very graphic, very striking.
    Yes the paper sucks. Paper is everything with watercolor and people starting out tend not to respect that. Fear of the cost is a factor. Try Canson Montval. Or go for Arches.
    Writing and painting are apples and oranges. Does a dancer dance in shabby shoes? Good quality materials matter. But your striking image transcends that :))
    Open the Champagne. Twiggie would love it. Love the lashes.

    1. Dear Carol--Thank you for the watercolor paper suggestions! I so appreciate it! And thank you for your encouragement! Love you, Jamie

  2. PS the shading gives it dimension and repeats the stripes on her top.
    Chapeau !

    1. Your thoughts--coming from some an accomplished artist as you are--someone I so admire--well, it means the world to me!

  3. You never know what those characters are going to do. I took Madame La Batte out of a story because I thought I had too many characters. She came back and argued with me about it.

    1. Hah! I love that Madame La Batte is so insistent on being in your story! Thanks, Reg!


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