Painting pleasure #1 is the peace it gives me, and the space it provides for my thoughts to wander, imagine and settle in stillness.
I went for both a walk and a bike ride in the snow today. The bright whites, greys and dark greens of the forest near my house were still and open. I could see far into the dense trees because their leaves had fallen months ago. Those same leaves are in the painting that I finished today. It is deeply contrasted to the frozen forest with it's beautiful collection of yellow, orange, cream, burgundy, green, blue and grey. It's called Thoughts in Stillness and I hope you like it.
Edmonton has completely transitioned to winter and with that comes the stress and beauty of the cold. As I was working on my leaf painting tonight I was thinking about winter driving and how dangerous it can be. Roads can be icy, with low visibility or deep with snow. Accidents often happen in those conditions and I find myself thinking about death much more often in the winter. But, it's also a beautiful time with clear sparkling days, and bright, low angled sun shining in your face. And possibly my favourite thing: all the tracks in the snow. From rabbits, squirrels, birds, cats, dogs, coyotes, people, bikes, and skis. I absolutely adore seeing tracks in the snow as a reminder that life is all around, busy as ever.
My leaf painting is capturing a small glimpse in time. The leaves fell on the ground in October. I picked them up, and their colour starting changing even faster when I brought them inside. I quickly took a picture of them arranged together in a curated pile so that I would have something to paint in the winter that wasn't a "live" still life (because I can't have two still lifes set up and I need more than one painting to work on). So, I work on fall leaves captured by a camera as my mind if captured by winter thoughts.
I'm drinking a diet root beer with no caffeine in it. I am flying around the studio doing literally five things at once... Emailed some galleries, painting sides on most of my new paintings, working on my website, posting to my instagram, and painting a leaf on my multi leaf still life I started last week. This one's going to take me a couple weeks I think. It's because I'm only going to do one leaf at a time instead of working on the whole painting at once. I think the composition requires this kind of attention, and spanned out effort. I'm looking forward to it being done because the first block in layer already looks like a "hell yeah!" in my head. Also, my lower back hurts.
One of the best things about painting from life is being able to hold my mixed clour right up to the area I'm trying to match. I appreciate the strict answer I get back each time. It either works or it doesn't.
Tonight I was thinking about friends, my cat, my husband, solar panels, my mountain bike ride, the book I'm listening too, and all the horrible things that happen in the world everyday. Being home and being in my studio is an excess of priviledge, comfort and safety. Of which I am extremely thankful and wish it was easier to share with those who need it.
I was in a pretty borrible mood tonight with a shut studio door and Brandi Carlile blasting so loudly you could here it clearly in th living room. I found some peace and mental comfort in finishing my coyote skull with butterflies piece. It's small, I think 10" or maybe 8" square. All I worked on was the background. It's a beautiful pale green made with viridian, a touch of yellow ochre, lots of titanium white, and a speck of ivory black. It's one of my favourite colours to paint with so I've been exciting to give this small painting such a bold, peaceful, exhilarating space for the skull to float in. What else is cool (I think), is that the two butterflies in the skull have colours using viridian. So, there's a lot of harmony and camouflage. I hope you like it when you see it.
-show up and work with loud music.
Sometimes you need to paint in the dark to get the type of lighting you want. This is my coyote skull, butterflies and me, in the dark. Last night and tonight as I focus on the colours and shadows within a skull, contrasted by the translucent and delicate wings, I think often of Georgia O'Keeffe. I deeply admire not only her work but her personality and fearlessness for a time when women had so many reasons to be fearful. Tonight I think of her saying, "I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from a single thing that I wanted to do."
"I feel painting is a terrifying thing to do but a wonderful thing to do anyways."
-a quote from me.
I follow Katie Whipple on instagram. I greatly admire her openness on scraping her flowers off after she realizes they aren't working fo her exact needs or goals in a painting. I work on wood which makes the surface especially able to be scraped with some serious pressure. But I haven't done it before.
Tonight we came back from restaurant hopping and I wanted to quickly varnish a few new paintings that had finished drying. And the coyote skull with butterfly was staring at me in the worst way. I worked on it for a couple hours last night with some luck with values but I realized afterwards while brushing my teeth that the composition, size and scale of the skull was wrong anmd there's no fixing that with colour. So tonight after varnishing others, I scraped it off with my favourite palette knife that I use for all my mixing.
Within miniutes, I had it covered over with a new wash of paynes grey. Back to being a blank start. So much better. I wondered to myself why I have never scraped a painting before. I realized that it's because painting time for me is precious work. And therefore, what I do with that time, feels like it needs clear evidence of some kind. Scraping that coyote skull was like scraping two hours out of my life even though I wouldn't have gotten that time back anyway. I can remind myself that I don't always need something to show for it. Plus, it was trash and had to go.
I worked on the second layer of my coyote skull painting after a very full day. It continues to amaze me that I can have such good, flowy painting sessions, while others are a painful struggle through mud. And that mud is colours I've mixed. I'm working with warm greys because I'm trying to practice backlighting with an imaginary light source. I want the butterfly (on the skull) to feel like the light source so I have to imagine what the light pale green glow from the butterfly would look like. However, I can only backlight the skull with a candle which is warm lighting. Like I said, a struggle, but a rewarding one.
This is a first. My first blog post for my website and anyone who wants to read it. I plan to keep things short around here, since I am oh so familiar with people's short attention spans, busy lives, and many things to do. But, maybe this will be a place you want to quickly glance over here and there, so to break up your day by hearing some mental art wonderings. As I write, this post is not going to be visible yet. I just want to see how it feels to take up some space.
I'm not working in my studio tonight as I am working on my instagram (content and posts - miserable work), and my website with updates of new work. I am taking a long break from encaustic since the last year and it's been awesome.