Posts tagged ‘Ninja’

“Ninja” Please, You are Finished! My Winning Battle Against The Canvas.

After three attempts, I finally finished my acrylic painting, “Ninja” on my birthday. Yes, two canvases died in the making of this piece, thanks to my lack of experience with acrylics.

This  is a seemingly violent departure from my other work which is typically joyous, gentle and peaceful.  “Ninja” is part of my on-going series called “Black and White and Red All Over” that I started awhile back and includes my two other pieces, “Chat Noir” and “Angry Kitty.”


The look is pretty dramatic with the stars zipping through the air, as they make extreme contact with their targets.  It reminds of a scene in an action movie where everything is happening in slow motion.  This is where my love of comic books is evident.

I worked in layers by first tinting the white paint, and then applying it to the entire canvas.  Afterwards, I applied a second layer of white horizontal streaks for some added texture and to make the stars appear as if they were flying at light speed.  Then there was the application of nerve-wracking details such as the black streaks around and behind the stars, followed by the red splatters. On my second attempt, the splatters ended up being my demise because I didn’t dilute the paint and it resulted in huge clumps on the canvas.  I was smarter this third go round.

So yes, “Ninja” was a rough customer but I persevered and completed it.   This was the one time where I felt that creating art was very much like a sparring match.

Making Ugly Art

Julia Cameron, the author of  The Artist’s Way, was right.  There will be times when you will make ugly art. Yesterday was one of those days and I have to accept it.

I was working in a medium that I hadn’t dabbled in since about a year and half ago – acrylics.  My latest piece was “Angry Kitty” back in 2012 and that turned out fairly well, mostly because the subject matter wasn’t too complicated.

It was this past Saturday when I felt the need to paint “Ninja” or “Assassin ( actually I don’t know what to really call the thing).”  The following day was Palm Sunday and one would think that I would have wanted to do something more contemplative.

I made a rough drawing in my sketch book nearly two years ago.  I created three throwing stars flying in the air towards their target.  I painted a trial throwing star on a smaller canvas for practice but never got around to doing the final work because I wasn’t comfortable with executing it.

         Ninja Stars     Star Final

Saturday, I drew the throwing stars on canvas and then painted the background.


Sunday, I tinted the white to give a light gray or dirty white base and then I applied white streaks as a second layer for some added texture.



It wasn’t until I started working on the stars that my problems began.  I struggled with using the brushes to create a sense of motion.  The swirls around the stars were muddy and the black streaks trailing the stars were just too big.  My lack of skill as an acrylic painter became quite obvious.



Creating ugly art is one of those things that will happen at some point in any artist’s life.  It’s a letdown considering the amount of the time one puts into their work, and in my case it happened to be a good bit of the day yesterday.  I had such high hopes.  Hindsight, I should have stopped right before painting the stars to give myself more time to think about my technique, but I was feeling pretty confident.

On the upside, making ugly art is a learning experience. Once I screwed up and was unable to find a resolution, I just went into “the heck with it” mode and just started playing with it.  I discovered that there were some things that worked that could be applied to future works and other things that didn’t.

I’m debating on whether or not to fix this hot mess.  I mean why miss an opportunity to REALLY jack it up further?  Most likely I will just scrap it and start over. That wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done something like this and thanks to the learning curve, I can probably finish it in less time.  Well, shoot, maybe I just solved my own problem right there! Just start over.  It’s okay.  It’s what the creative process is about.


Back to The Drawing Table: Getting Out Of This Rut

Yep,  I have just completely fallen away from the drawing table again.  I’m ashamed to even write this post since I  haven’t written anything in a while nor have I created any art since the end of July.  You know it’s hard enough getting started but it’s even harder to start and continue on for a while, then completely stop, and THEN try to get back into it. 

That old nagging inside voice from years ago returned telling me that I would have been much further ahead had I not stopped.  It was telling me, “You’ve already wasted this much time, what’s the point in going back?”  It is of course, the same old mental trap that used to plague me for years, that kept me from pursuing my art in the first place.  Truth be told, it’s only been a couple of months, not six.  It’s not the end of the world.

Funny how you don’t even see it coming, though.  You miss a day here and there and then slowly but surely it starts to add up. Your schedule suddenly becomes overrun with activities, tasks and distractions.  Since you are apprehensive about seizing the day and taking care of business, the unwanted visitor Procrastination makes itself at home and settles in for awhile.    

The last project I was working on was one of my smaller ninja stars.   This was the last shot that I posted where I was about three-quarters of the way through.

Shortly thereafter I painted the rest and drew some speed lines around it and  this is what happened: 

The speed lines around the star look like a black halo of tire tracks.  I have an idea about how to make this better so I will continue to play with the same piece.   This is when you come to the realization that there are just some art projects that are just meant for experimentation.  I bought a total of three of these mini canvases figuring that I was going to jack up one or two of them en route to perfecting the final work.  I’ve also drawn some smaller thumbnail sketches on notepads and sketchbooks so that I can achieve the right look.  Let’s hope I can translate what I sketched in ink and pencil over to paint and canvas.

So, yes, now I am getting back to the drawing table because I won’t be going anywhere if I don’t do anything, right?  Therefore I am making the decision today to get moving.  By the way, it’s okay if you fall down, as long as you get back up. I thank God that He’s given me a new day, and another chance to make it right.

Chat Noir – The Final

Here kitty kitty!  I’ve finally finished “Chat Noir!”  Not bad for a second attempt at a final piece.  I had an especially hard time painting over the past weekend and I’m sure it was the added pressure that I put on myself trying to complete it.  Also, I spent a few days prior working on some art for church function, where I painted three small “murals.”  I”m sure I suffered from a little painting burnout after that.

The other setback involved color-mixing, where I was trying to find the right shades of gray for shadowing and for the bottom wall.  Initially I thought that the wall color was a little too dark but now I like it because it makes the red curtains pop.  Speaking of curtains, I wanted to give them some texture and interest so I added some swirls.  So much for uniformity.  Some of  them looked like “6s” and some looked like “Es.”   Hey, it was a tough weekend.  Still I am happy with them and the piece overall.

Now on to my next work called “Ninja” where I will be painting some throwing stars.  Here is my sketch.  I’m looking forward to working on this one and am considering making individual stars on smaller canvases.  Each one will have a different color background.   I realized that this was a bit of  a departure from my calm and tranquil art.  Not everyday that I show some blood spattering in my portfolio.  Blood is red though, so I’m just keeping up with the red, black and white theme!

After I complete my “Ninja” project,  I’m going to give painting a rest and go back to drawing.  I need the break from it and plus I want to work on “The Veil,” that I wrote about in a previous post.  It will be nice to go back to pencils and chalk pastels.

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