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  • Writer's pictureJessica Glover

My Sacred Heart Kick

When my Mom came to visit me in Savannah last spring, we meandered into a funky local store called Folklorico where I bought my first sacred heart that was handmade by a Peruvian artisan. I promptly hung it in my living room, scoured Pinterest for images (even creating a "Sacred Heart" board), and started doodling sacred hearts in my sketchbook all over the place. Needless to say - I have become obsessed.

Lately I have developed a sort of affinity for antique Christian imagery. This most certainly has to do with the sort of architecture and ornate aesthetic that adorned every ancient edifice across Southern France. Spending 3 months in places of antique origins exposed me to a plethora of old Christian iconography.

So this week, I decided to ride out this newfound obsession by creating several small sacred heart drawings and then coloring them with my beloved Windsor & Newton watercolor paint set! Click on the arrows to the left and right of the image below to scroll through them…

In the process of making these small drawings, I tested out some new materials that I recently picked up at Blick and discovered what seemed to work (as well as what didn’t work). So if you are interested in how I created these sacred heart paintings, keep reading about my process below!

I suppose I should explain why I decided to leave the paper rough – I have a problem. And that problem is the fact that whenever I sit down to paint or draw, and I am faced with that ever-intimidating “blank canvas effect,” I become very timid in applying pen to paper. It’s hard where the rubber meets the road when, in my mind, the rubber is precious and must be treated as such. The very fact is that art is messy, creating art is messy, and I am not a perfect human being. In order to mitigate the intimidation factor of the blank page, I decided to simply rip 1 sheet of 9 x 12” Strathmore watercolor paper into 4 smaller pieces of equal size. I simply folded the paper in half length-wise, ripped it across, then folded it in half again width-wise and ripped it again. By facing an “imperfect” sheet of paper from the get-go, I didn’t feel the same pressure to produce something perfect on it.

Once I had my paper, watercolor paint, brushes, pencil, eraser, and pen, I sat down to work. I began by using my pencil and began to mindlessly doodle. In order to not box myself in and overthink (which is a huge problem for me), I did not refer to other artists’ sacred heart images, but rather the ones I had already made in my sketchbook. I was not focused on perfection, but rather presence. I sought to dive into that mind state of flow where one is simply present and those usually pervasive thoughts are silenced into the void.

Once I drew all the hearts in pencil, I went over the lines with my new Pentel Finito x-tra fine porous paint pen. It has great flow and is truly dreamy to work with. One thing to note – if you are using this pen, be sure to give plenty of time for the ink to dry before going over the remaining pencil lines with an eraser. I ran into “happy little accidents” with smuging once I reached this stage.

Once each drawing was penned, I moved onto the next stage of coloring them in. I chose not to color in one particular drawing because I liked how it looked black-and white (I even chose to leave the pencil lines because I thought they informed the final piece). Once I began this stage, I did not paint each sacred heart to completion before moving onto the next. Because watercolor takes time to dry, and I was painting small areas of different colors that touched, I had to paint in phases (so as to avoid bleeding/unwanted color mixing). Although I had done a quick Google search to see if my Pentel Finito porous point pen was permanent (it is), I still ran into issues. It can and will probably bleed when applying watercolor. No need to fret – I tell myself to work with mistakes, not against them.

I would cycle through the penned drawings and apply color in stages, leaving them on my mantle to dry in-between while working on the other ones. And finally – viola! Sacred heart art! Maybe they’re great, maybe people will like them and want to buy them – I suppose I shouldn’t care. But for now, my condo is littered with little images of burnin’ love.

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