Yesterday I started painting a jungle themed bathroom. I arrived at the house armed with pages of ideas the homeowner had sent me, and my supply of paints and brushes. My client had an inspiration piece for the project: a painterly fabric that will be used in the shower curtain. Awesome!
But my joy over the fabric was shortlived. You see, the walls were prepared for me with a fresh coat of white paint. WHITE PAINT!
Um, have I ever told you that I cannot start murals on plain white walls? They scare me.
They're so big, so plain. So intimidating. I CAN'T DO IT!
So instead of starting the murals, I didn't. I started an "underpainting" instead.
An underpainting is a quick, light wash of colors that an artist will lay down on a canvas so he can see the layout and design of his painting. There are no details, really, just a hint of the painting so that he can see where he should go to begin the "real" painting... and make adjustments as he goes. Sometimes, the final painting ends up looking completely different than the underpainting, but in the beginning, the underpainting provides some structure on the blank canvas. It helps get him started.
My underpainting was really nothing more that a light wash of green, with leaf-shaped edges. I decided that "most" of the green would get covered up with darker foliage, but I'd leave enough of it showing to give the impression of depth and layers. It's a little bit of a trick, to be honest. It will help your eye "fill in" the foliage so it won't look stark on those big white walls.
I didn't have to make any real decisions when doing the underpainting. Just blobs of paint that started looking like shadowy leaves.....just enough structure so if I squinted my eyes and thought real hard, I could start to envision where the log with a lizard on it should go. Before I knew it, I had some of foliage started.
I even did an underpainting up high, where trees might go. A monkey will eventually be on this vine above the (future) towel bar. See the pale green behind the palm leaves?
NOW I can see where I ought to put a big palm tree! I started adding more foliage to the bottom - much easier now that everything is anchored with that light green layer.
Today, I will finish the foliage and work on the flowers: hibiscus and birds-of-paradise type things. After that will come some jungley creatures...monkeys, a parrot, a lizard and a flamingo. My best guess is that I will be done on Monday. I'm so glad I was able to get over my fear of the "real" painting by starting with that underpainting. It made all the difference.
All this brings me to our Small Thing today.
If you don't know where to start a task (like cleaning your house or getting laundry done) the answer is: DON'T. Don't start....yet.
Today's Small Thing is to give yourself an "underpainting." A bit of structure. A preliminary exercise that takes the intimidation factor out of your task and gives you some direction.
- Laundry pile too high? Just sort out the darks and do those so they are out of the way. Now how does your pile look? Or maybe instead of mixing the whole family's laundry together, do ONE PERSON'S laundry at a time. (sshhh...no sorting later!)
- Kitchen a disaster? Clear everything to the side so you can SEE your counter. Isn't it lovely? Hello, counter! I forgot what you looked like. Now that you're reacquainted, that stack of dishes doesn't seem so bad. Now, what if you just got those pots done first?
- Kids out of control and whining all day long? Put some simple structure in place: snack time at 10 am, storytime with mommy at 11 am. Room time after lunch. Let them know what's coming and watch the magic of expectations at work. Yours AND theirs...that's gold, baby.
Are you getting the idea? Don't let the enormity of your tasks immobilize you. Give yourself a teeny bit of structure on the front end, and then see if the tasks seem more manageable on the back side. My guess is that they will practically take care of themselves.
What will your "underpainting" look like today? I'd LOVE to hear how you are applying it!
Song of the Day: Healing Begins, Tenth Avenue North