In my previous blogs I’ve talked about my struggles this year with my art. And while I’ve always found painting to be a stress reliever I do go through the typical stages most artists go through in the creation of the painting: beginning confidence; why do I think I can paint?; I’m a genius; I’ve just ruined it; okay, I’m happy now.
Recently I’ve experienced something new. A kind of zen or bliss while I’m painting. Even if it’s just a practice piece as when our portrait group meets twice a month to paint from a model.
Maybe I’ve finally released the need for creating the “Masterpiece”. Musicians practice much more than they perform. Singers, actors, athletes, all spend a lot of time practicing. Artist often have a mindset that each piece they create should be a masterpiece, or at least salable. Maybe it’s because practice piles up in the corner :-).
So letting go of the “product” has put me in a new state of mind and I have found my bliss!
Many, many artists talk about painting the light ever since the Impressionist put paint in tube and went outdoors to paint.
Lately I’ve been interested with the color white. I say color because depending on the light and shadow, and what is around it, white takes on many nuances of color.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s when John Singer Sargent and Joaquín Sorolla (two artists I admire) were painting there was a lot of full, white fabric around, especially worn by women and children, as well as in the sails of boats.
These white houses and the challenge of the shadows, and the flowers caught my eye.
I’ve read about artists experiencing creative block, where they didn’t know what to paint or what to do with their art next. In December I thought maybe that’s what I was going through. But really I had all sorts of ideas that I wanted to paint I just didn’t want to paint them. I was having more of an ambition block.
I had two solo shows last year, my first solo shows, which are a lot of work. Then there was a plethora of holiday shows to prepare, enter, deliver, and track.
December would’ve been a nice time to be on a tropical island relaxing in the sand, sun, and turquoise waters. Instead I chose holiday shopping and gatherings with family and friends.
I’ve read about how artists handle their creative blocks but I just didn’t WANT to paint. So I continued to look at art, read about art, I watched some instructional videos from artists whose art I admire, and just absorbed some good vibes.
Now in the New Year I am processing all that and working out what I learned, and I must say, I’m doing as much wiping out as I am painting!
Like anything it’s hard to break old habits. I find myself saying, “That’s not what I want”, and so I wipe it out and have another go at it. And I’ve gone back to standing instead of sitting while I paint so I can back up more often to look at my painting. That helps a great deal. Then I put in on my shelf in the living room so I can glance at it the rest of the day for further contemplation.
So here is “Nature Trail”, 8×6″ oil on panel, which I have painted, wiped out, and repainted each area several times. It’s a process. And I think I’m done.
In my quest for constant and never ending improvement I sometimes get too much information in my head. One day, as I put brush to canvas, my head blew up.
It all started when I was unhappy that my painting had gotten too tight (it wasn’t that way in art school and college!). It may be skillful but not very expressive. So I looked to artist’s whose work I admire—old masters as well as currently working artist—to learn new techniques.
I took a workshop, watched some videos, a tutorial, read some books and magazines. After working for years with the colors I used in college I tried a whole new brighter palette and was I having some success. I learned some looser brushwork techniques. I keep going.
One artist uses more colors; one uses a limited palette; one uses 3 colors plus white. One tones their canvas, another does not. Etc.
One day painting, the information was all in conflict in my head. That was the day it all started swirling around and my head blew up. I had to stop, light a candle, meditate, and begin again.
Let’s just try ONE thing and see what happens. Let’s think about just this ONE thing and if it works, fine; if not, fine.
And “Fresh Flowers” came out way better than I expected. Not as loose as I’m working toward, but I pretty much like it. What do you think?
Master Gardener, Patty Thayer, has turned her yard into a garden wonderland, with paths, plants, and colorful flowers at every turn. A large deck plus small spots to sit provide areas to relax and refresh. The garden is embellished by the work of Artist Blacksmith, Doug Thayer (Patty’s husband).
Our plein air painting group was invited to paint in their garden again this year. Deciding what to paint is the most difficult part. The flowers were incredible, blooming everywhere. I chose the steps to the deck where this ceramic blue lantern joined in the color celebration.
Everyone loves the water, to be near it if not on it.
What is it? Is it the sound? The waves or the movement? The way the light dances on the surface? The mystery of what lies beneath?
I love the reflections, and the light and distorted images of whatever is near. And there is always life around water—flying over it, jumping in it or out of it. And always a breeze. And I love to paint it.
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.” —William Shakespeare
To enjoy the fragrance as well as to get lost in these shapes and colors is almost more joy than my brush can handle. Indeed the looking and seeing is a big part of painting for me. The name of the thing—not at all.
Getting it from my head into paint…well… that’s a whole ‘nother challenge.
I took photography in college but now I mostly snap pics on my IPhone. I can compose my shots in the camera giving me good reference to paint from later. Painting outdoors is great, but as I’m painting one thing I see a dozen more things around me I want to paint.
I have friends who are photographers and who are generous enough to allow me to use their photos from time to time as reference for my paintings. They have more patience than I do to get some fantastic shots. This “White Iris” was shot by my friend, Deb Drew Brown, which I turned into paint.
If ever there were a flower bursting with joy it would be the peonies growing behind my deck. When I first moved into this house they were growing on the side of the house. Who could see them there? I moved them right outside my back deck where I can see them from my desk and they have flourished.
I have invited other artists over to paint them, as I just had to share their beauty. I feel like there is a garden party the whole time they are in bloom. I cannot paint them enough.