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Yosemite in Eyeshadow, Redux

Last week: I spent $4.99 on a dazzling palette of eyeshadows that I tried to use as if they were pastel chalks.

This week: I paint with them by wetting a watercolor brush and rubbing it into the tiny pots of color.

First, I made a contour drawing of an image from the Yosemite Conservancy webcam. It's true: Right now Yosemite Valley is in the midst of a huge snowstorm and snow is blocking the cameras. I made my contour drawing from this photo of Ahwanee Meadow taken last March.

My contour drawing looked like this, just the big shapes:

Next, I dipped the wet brush into the makeup and stroked, stamped or scrumbled (rubbed wildly) it on the drawing. Paintbrushes make distinctive marks when you use regular paint, and you can use the tip of a brush to suggest the shape of trees, or use an almost dry brush to suggest rocks and sand.  

But not with eyeshadow. The colors are too pale and thin and the pigments are ground too large to control with dampness or brush size. You can just see the tops of the trees that line the meadow in my painting, below, because I had to crop it! The trees had become muddy blurs as I tried to add shadows in the woods.

To me, the experiment was worth the cost of the eyeshadows! I'm always wondering, "What will make good paint? This clay? This charcoal? The skin of these blueberries?" I didn't find a new paint, it's true, but I do have a better understanding of what makes a good one.  

Drawing from the webcam is great practice and such fun. Try it as a warm-up before you do a more detailed painting.  

As I drew, I felt as if I were in Yosemite Valley, and that's always a good thing.

-- Sue Fierston paints and teaches just outside of Washington, D.C. in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. As a painter, she works in acrylics and watercolor and is in the middle of a series called "100 Flowers." As a teaching artist, she works with teachers to bring art into their classrooms in grades 4-8. Her posts focus on her nature-themed art collaborations. For a look at her paintings or more about her teaching, check out her website at suzannefierston.com.

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