No Man is an Island

No man is an island entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less,
as well as if a promontory were,
as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were;
any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

This is one of Tim's all-time favorite poems. Someday maybe I'll have him write a post about his interpretation and explanation of it, but for now, I'll give you my abbreviated commentary.  One of the things I love very most about this poem is the idea that we do not exist in a vacuum. Our very existence changes the lives of those around us. We are not separate events, bouncing off of each other at random.  We influence each other because we are intrinsically linked to each other.  

Alright, alright, I'm bad at explaining this so let's just skip to pictures.  The point is, as soon as Tim saw my first church painting, he gave me a mission.

"Dani, you must find a church with a bell tower and paint it so that we can put this quote with it."

Being thusly armed, I forayed out into the wilds of urban Moscow and ended up at the Church of Christ the Savior.  At first, I wasn't really planning on painting the bell tower. I just sat on a bench and stared at the church.  There are so many shadows and details--it would take me a month to paint the whole thing.  So, I thought, I'll just do little watercolor sketches.

Then I saw the bell tower, and knew I wanted to paint it.

(The bell is in there, I promise.)

It all starts with a sketch on watercolor paper. I don't use a ruler when I draw or paint, so it takes a while to make sure the lines are correct.  

I really like the slight crookedness, though--it's a nice juxtaposition with the realistic painting.

 I know the words are wrong--I didn't notice it until I got home. Oops. I wasn't planning on doing an official painting, so I just stuck on whatever words I could remember it being.  I thought that was it, but I guess not.  It's okay, though, because I don't think I would have been able to fit "And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls", so it's probably good I just did "Ask not for whom the bell tolls."

Honestly, the great thing about painting a building is that it's practically a paint-by-numbers situation.  Don't me wrong, it's easier and harder at the same time. Watercolor is especially unique, because if you make a mistake, it is very hard to fix.  A stray mark of the brush, a wrong color, or two colors mixing when they aren't supposed to--all hard to cover up.  Luckily for me, I've had lots of practice. And made LOTS of mistakes.  

For example--see that red dot on the painting? That was actually from painting my other church sketch.  The papers were both taped down side-by-side, but I somehow got a splotch on there. I wasn't really worried because I thought I was just going to do a quick watercolor sketch on this paper, almost like a throwaway sketch. But I ended up loving it so much that I tried (mostly successfully, I think) to lift up the red dot from the final image.

I sat and painted for three hours straight, and I have a sunburn on the eastern half of my body to prove it. #zebrastripes

My sister Chelsea once asked me how I could paint with such a messy palette. (If you think this one is messy, you should see my other one.) The trick is not contaminating your colors with each other.  Watercolor also does a pretty good job of staying where you put it--that is to say, when I'm mixing a color in my palette right next to another color, as long as it's dry, they won't mix together.  You just get used to it, I guess.

I didn't realize how much I missed painting. I just love it.  It can be the most frustrating thing in the world and the most exhilarating thing in the world. And more often than not, they are the a rollercoaster of feelings one right after another.  You paint in a little bit, step back, and tell yourself that looks AMAZING.  Then, with the next brushstroke, you almost ruin a critical part of the painting and spend the next crucial seconds trying to fix it before the paint dries. 

It's basically my version of extreme sports.

Last progress shot.  I guess I just got in the zone and finished before I could take another picture.  I was listening to old episodes of Radio Lab the entire time, so maybe that had something to do with it.

Right as I finished, the bells on a nearby church started ringing.

Coincidence? I think not. I'm just great like that.

All done!

I am pretty much in love with it.