The right tool for the job

"Living Library" book cover series: tattoo artist mixed media on canvas 11" x 14"

A few things I have learned about tools and mostly from my college carpentry class.

#1. No standing on the table saw or reaching OVER the blade when it is in motion. #2. If your prof sees you opening a paint can with one of his chisels, you are INDEED going to be yelled at (and that yelling will more than likely involve some kind of profanity in quick succession) #3. The smallest person present WILL be asked to test the stability of the second floor of a stage....because if it collapses you are less likely to hurt yourself badly because you are small and if it's NOT stable, it's less likely to collapse because you are small. #4. If you make the mistake of demonstrating that you are good at drawing anatomy in large perspectives...you will be the sole illustrator of the very...erm...phallic areas of a nude frescoe style drapery, and you will indeed be painting them as well! (thus you ARE the tool)

The more I paint the more I come to appreciate my tools. Paint brushes for example. I mean...a brush is a brush, right? That's what I thought up until I got the first of my lovely acrylic brushes with stiffer synthetic bristles. WOW! Suddenly brush strokes were appearing effortlessly and my brush to palette contact was WAY down because it held more paint. I then developed the same apathy for watercolors brushes. I'm just dabbling in this I thought...there is no need to spend $30 or more on a brush. Then I worked at an art store....and splurged and got a great watercolor brush made with black squirrel hair. Well...holy crap! That sure changed things. Suddenly I didn't feel like I was dabbling anymore and creating lovely washes wasn't such a frustrating experience. Same thing with runners......which, I'm due for a new pair soon. (Yay!)

Why am I thinking about tools? Mostly because I spend so much time using them....and they really do help determine the successful process of creating a piece and shaping it's style. (also the dude in the painting is using a tool that is VERY necessary in his profession) My ink nib for example can give me a very unpredictable line or a rough surface. In the case of these book covers, I really like that. In the case of the wedding commission that I am putting the finishing touches on....I'm not digging that effect SO much, but I'm making it work nonetheless and it's honing my skills as a painter and getting me to rethink how I might go about it if a similar opportunity arises again in the future.

That and trying new things is fun and I like playing with tools....of all kinds. My new favorites? Digging tools. I'm waiting for a trowel to aid in my digging of square holes on my next archeological excursion. Good thing I'm marrying an archeologist and Christmas is coming....