Raccoons in a tree

I’ve had a nice piece of tree bark in my craft cupboard for a couple of years now, so I decided to finally do something worthwhile with it. I had originally shellacked it to protect the bark.

I’d been tossing around the idea in my mind of painting it to look like a couple of raccoons were looking out of a hole in a tree, so had to figure out a way of making a circle in the center that would be smooth enough for painting.

With hopes that I wouldn’t make a mistake and destroy the entire, delicate piece of bark, I jumped in with both feet and used a heavy-duty retractable utility knife to carve the outline of a circle, then gently picked away at pieces of bark in the circle to clear it back to the rough wood. Then I used some sandpaper to gently sand inside the circle until it was about as smooth as I could get it without rubbing right through.

Next, I used fine black marker to sketch a rough outline of the raccoons in the circle. If I do this again, I’ll use a dark lead pencil instead, because the marker outline was hard to eliminate, even after painting over it a few times. The marker lines kept reappearing right through the paint. Live and learn.

Once I had my outline, I painted the black background, then just started painting the raccoons with a combination of black, dark and light grey, tan grey, and cream coloured acrylic paints. While I worked, I was paranoid that I was going to mess it up somehow and would then have to scrap the whole thing, but it ended up turning out ok. Not perfect, but good enough for my skill level.

The main thing here—it’s always exciting to embark on a new challenge and watch it take shape. I’ve dabbled in art on and off throughout my life, so I’m nowhere near being professional at it, but I’m finding that the more I do it, the more I learn. And the more I learn, the more I love doing it.

Going outside of your comfort zone is almost always a good thing, and it’s truly the best way to learn. I move out of my comfort zone every time I start a new art project, because I never know if it’s going to turn out, and it’s always in the back of my mind that I may be wasting my time (maybe that’s a confidence thing?). But it’s never been a waste of time. I always learn something from the experience. And 99% of the time, it works out!

So here’s a challenge for you: think of something you’ve never done before, and make the decision to take a chance… move outside your comfort zone by trying to do it.

You’ve got nothing to lose because I guarantee that you’ll learn some valuable new lessons. And even better, taking that step might just start you on a whole new path!


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