Sometimes you may have the feeling that you’d like to make a statement with your art, something about the times you’re living in (like the time of the COVID-19 pandemic!), or some specific event, or some political issue. But you don’t necessarily feel comfortable making an overt statement or perhaps you just don’t know how to make a statement with the art you do. So, in the end, you keep working as you’ve done and the statement that’s screaming to get out goes unheard or ignored.
Let’s have a look and see how we can change that.
Take a roll of toilet paper. It means nothing, it’s so ordinary. It’s not ordinary, however, in these times of the novel coronavirus. Anyone living through this pandemic who recalls its initial appearance in the western world knows there’s more to toilet paper than meets the eye! So just creating a painting of toilet paper makes its own statement. It can be helped along by the title you choose.
This subject matter will be infused with meaning by those who are living through this crisis. Eventually, it may lose that specific meaning and become merely its ordinary self, the self it was prior to early 2020 in Western society, but for some, it will always be a statement about a certain time and place.
In our free HowToPastel Facebook group, I challenged members to create a painting that made a statement about this very subject by painting a single roll of paper and somehow, elevating its status whether in a serious way or tongue in cheek. What emerged were some wonderfully imaginative pieces!
In my IGNITE! art-making membership we painted a single roll of toilet paper together. Below, I share the reference photo we used, my thumbnails, my piece with the first layer of colours, and finally, my final demo painting. That’s all followed by the demo video (on YouTube). (I didn’t take progression shots because I was videoing the process. The quality is not great because it was done with a camera attached to my computer. Apologies!)
Although I prefer to work from life, I wanted the whole group to work from the same image so I supplied a reference photo. Here it is:
On the morning IGNITErs all got together to paint, I showed different possibilities of composition in a number of thumbnails. You can see below my variations. Can you see how the feeling changes as the format and placement of the toilet paper roll changes?
In the end, I chose to make the toilet paper front and centre!
First here’s the underpainting in three colours matching the three value areas. I’ve also added the image in black and white.
And here’s the finished demonstration, in colour and in black and white. You can see in the black and white version that, even as I played with colour, I kept to my value pattern.
And now, here’s the video!!!
My painting shows a roll of toilet paper, now elevated to the status of worthy still life object. And, in a way, I’m making a subtle statement in my art about the current status of this very common and usually ignored household item which it seems many are frantic at the thought of being without!
And my title? How about “The Rise of Toilet Paper” or “What Every Household Hoards” or “A Sinister Secret?” All of those offer a meaning to the viewer beyond the factual painting of TP. I could just as easily call the piece “A Roll of Toilet Paper” or “White on Blue.” Both of these, however, add no meaning beyond what we see in the painting. Mind you, those last two titles also leave it up to the viewer to make whatever meaning they may find as they bring their own perception and experience to the painting.
As you can see, making a statement with your art doesn’t have to be loud or brash. It can be done in a simple and quiet way. The thing is to be intentional about painting the thing, person, place, or event you want to bring attention to while using the painting techniques you always use. And know that you can always add some mystery and meaning with your title!!
Now I’d LOVE to hear from you!! Was this useful? Have you ever wondered about how to make a statement with your art? I’d also love you to let your imagination fly and come up with some cool titles for my single roll of toilet paper painting!!! Go on, let’s hear them!!
Until next time,
PS. You can see the video (and many more!) in real-time in our IGNITE! art-making membership. I’ll be opening up the membership for a short window to those on the Waitlist starting Sunday 19th April. There’s no commitment but you can’t get in for now unless you’re on the list. The membership won’t open again until early summer and the price will be higher!! If you are reading this after the short opening window, make sure you get on the Waitlist for next time! Get on the list here!