Last year was great—I had two successful solo shows, I painted almost every day, and I sold more art than the year before. So I took December off to enjoy the holidays with family and friends, and spent time to read about art and research artists I admire.
It was my intention to get back to painting full time in January, but I found all the information I acquired was confusing. Each artist takes a different approach: one tones their canvas, another does not; they all use different palettes of color; some draw first, others block in shapes. I wanted to try something new but didn’t know where to start. So I didn’t.
January turned into February turned into March and so on. Luckily I have artist friends who have gone through this or know artist who have gone through it (some for much longer), so I felt I would recover.
In May I went on a plein air painting retreat for four days, painting all day with other artists and that finally jump-started my shift back into the mind-set I needed to paint again. Whew!
I’ve learned a great deal this year, and I’ve wiped off as many canvasses as I’ve kept. And that’s a good thing.
I just came back from Chicago where I am again renewed after visiting the special exhibit of John Singer Sargent at the Art Institute. Hopefully I can channel some of his genius into my work (if only!).
Yes, a difficult year, but a year of growth. Who said it’d be easy after all?
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.