Practice, Practice, Practice
By Totally Wendy
This summer, I was blessed to be part of a great team of ladies who put on a fantastic Vacation Bible School (VBS) program! The theme was so much fun to work with we decided to use a similar “beachy” theme throughout our summer program and into our school year program.
Part of this plan meant reusing an out-of-date beach-themed VBS curriculum as our weekly summer Sunday School program. With a few tweaks, our fearless director shaped the curriculum to fit into our summer schedule. The drawback being that the old curriculum was no longer being published and we could no longer purchase supporting materials.
We had the decorations covered, but the weekly “take home” items, snacks and visuals were a challenge. Our fearless director was able to “surf” the web and find many crafts or trinkets that we could easily substitute. I “surfed” for some beach themed snack ideas and made a plan.
Still, we were missing something.
Each Sunday morning, when the kids would circle up around our little altar, we would have no visual to tie the lesson idea into the theme. Now, I remember the days when Sunday schools were just a room full of kids and decorations were simply last week’s coloring pages. Still, I wanted to have that something special.
So, I continued to surf and found a large variety of painted pieces which would fit our needs ALMOST exactly. Each picture lacked only the special wording used in that week’s lesson. So, what does a creative do when she can’t find what she wants?
She simply makes it herself.
Grabbing a few canvases, my brushes and my paint pots, I set out to make the pictures I felt we needed. As my DH frequently tells me, I am quite good at painting backgrounds. My subtly varied striations of color are pretty and often evoke a watery feeling.
So, I was pretty sure I could pull off these ocean themed images.
First, I needed a clown fish near the bottom of the ocean.
While I worried about my ability to create a suitable clownfish, I set about painting his deep blue home. Encouraging me as always, my DH reminded me that this was simply a gift to my lovely church children and a wonderful way to practice through some of my weaker areas. A few attempts later, and I had a very recognizable ‘Nemo’ swimming across my canvas.
Second, I needed a starfish on the beach.
I painted the sand and the surf in the style I am best at, allowing the two color schemes to meet at a soft edge. I hand sketched a star onto the sand and filled it in. Using a some dabs of “SNOW TEX,” I was able to create some sea foam along the beach.
Third, I needed an oyster with a large pearl in it.
Using my watery background technique, I quickly arrived at our oyster’s habitat. I hand-sketched an irregular oyster shape (some oyster bar research may or may not have been involved here). Using some soft pastel colors, I swirled the inside of the oyster to give a mother-of-pearl feel about it.
Then the pearl; I wanted a LARGE pearl since the pearl was an integral part of the lesson that week. I gave it several coats of ivory and very pale yellow, blended repeatedly into the overall circle. I added a very light coat of a pearlescent paint to the outer edges to hint at the sheen of the pearl. Touching up with some black detailing, I ended up really liking the outcome.
Number four was a sea turtle. By this time I had started to share my exploits with a friend who decided she wanted a piece of the action. I (ahem) graciously allowed her to take on the sea turtle project while I went on to the next.
Number five was a sand dollar on the beach. This setting was basically a remake of the starfish picture, but the sand dollar was a little more challenging to pull off. The colors and design on a sand dollar are quite subtle and took a few tries. When I thought I had it just about right, DH suggested that I give it another go. He was right; I like this last version much more.
Are these examples of the best clownfish, starfish, oyster or sand dollar ever painted?
They are, however, the best ones I’ve ever painted.
My practice paintings were a gift to the lovely children I teach every Sunday. Did they see the flaws and imperfections that I (and maybe you) could see?
They were overjoyed by the fun colors and designs and that fact that MISS WENDY painted the pictures just for them!
We all need practice.
I was blessed with an opportunity to practice AND gift the paintings in a way they will be greatly enjoyed.
Don’t hold yourself back; step outside of your usual creative box and try your hand at something new. It may not be perfect, but I guarantee it will be fun and SOMEONE will really enjoy it.
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