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.
I’ve painted five pictures of cats—not all mine—and two with people walking their dogs but they are pretty small. This is my first portrait of a dog.
My cat, Buster, was rescued from a parking lot when a stray cat had a litter there. When I thought he needed a friend (he told me later he didn’t). I went to the Capitol Area Humane Society to find LeeLuu. She is a sweetheart.
The CAHS is having their annual fundraiser, the Fur Ball Gala, “Casabarka”. I am donating this painting for their auction. My photographer friend, John Diephouse, provided me with a photograph of his dog Cooper, to use as a reference from which to paint. I hope it brings in a good bid.
The first time I drove past the Fleetwood Diner in a non-descript part of town my head would’ve flown off had it not been attached by my neck. It stands out like a full moon in a clear night sky. Hence the immediate U-turn.
It’s everything you’d want in a diner including great food, especially their popular dish—Hippie Hash!
After my first painting, a 5×7″ acrylic, I knew I had to go back—AT NIGHT— to take more pictures to really get that shine through the glass bricks and that glow of the neon lights—not an easy task.
My second painting, 12×24″ acrylic, I worked to capture the neon and the mystery of the Fleetwood in the late summer evening.
I grew up in the suburbs and I enjoy drive in the country, but I was born in the city. I only lived in Detroit for 4 years but we visited my grandmother there for years.
And I went to art school downtown right behind the Art Institute.
Maybe I’ve read too many novels or seen too many movies. When I’m in a large downtown I get a feeling of mystery. I want to know everyone’s story. Especially on a gloomy day the intrigue seems intensified. A perfect time for a painting of an urban landscape.
I was driving home from the artists’ breakfast that we have every Saturday morning and in my neighborhood the sun was hitting this tree in full fall colors. I got a couple blocks down and knew I had to go back and snap some photos with my iPhone. I went home and began painting. It’s not often I get to use Cadmium orange and Cadmium yellow right out of the tube. I must say I did get too thick too fast though. I guess I was too excited. It was going so well and then it wasn’t! I was getting picky—painting every leave. So I wiped out the tree and began again, slowly layering the paint. Much happier with the results.
The neighborhood is full of trees in all stages of color and falling leaves. I had a plethora of streets to shoot my photos. This one with its deep shadows complimenting that fiery color activated my “OH!” factor.
Long ago when I learned to use a computer I quickly got used to the UNDO command. My thumb and middle finger became ingrained in this keyboard motion and I found my fingers repeating this motion in spite of myself whenever I make a mistake whether I was on a computer or not!
There is no such command in painting. I think I’m done with a painting but…maybe…that one area might look better if it were a bit lighter…noooooo. It doesn’t. UNDO. UNDO. UNDO. Sigh…
If the paint underneath was dry I might be able to wipe it off, but that is not the case. So I scrape it off and repaint, telling myself how stupid I am. But, frustrating as it may be, it always turns out better than it was to begin with. Wow. And I’m happy again.
A friend of mine confessed that her thumb and finger try to expand pictures in magazines to make them bigger. Ha!
If I painted abstracts I might be able to paint several paintings a day out of my head. If I were still painting landscapes it wouldn’t matter if the tree was straight or how long the limb was, I’d be concerned with the horizon line.
But I’m painting a building with straight lines, proportions, perspective, etc. I’m trying to stay loose and not get caught up in the details as I used to when I painted in a photorealistic style. There are cameras and Photoshop for that and I want my painting to look like paint.
I like to listen to the radio when I paint, often NPR. On the weekends they repeat programs, and if they talk about war or beheadings or other ugly topics it is not conducive to the joy of painting. This weekend I was playing a meditative CD with wonderful upbeat music and soothing narration. After painting a window for the 3rd or 4th time I said out loud, “Why do I paint buildings?” The voice on the CD immediately responded, “Because that’s who you are.”
OK then! I’ll just keep painting.
This iconic diner, the Fleetwood Diner, in Lansing, Michigan, is famous for their “Hippie Hash”. Seems like a good name for this painting of the diner.