Letting The Canvas Speak

Sorry fellow pyromaniacs, no burnt paper or cardboard tonight. I had an overwhelming urge to paint this afternoon. This was more difficult than you might imagine due to the fact that my studio looks as though Blick (Art Supplies) has imploded. I decided last week to completely reorganize my space, and why wouldn’t I with Christmas right around the corner? It’s not enough that crafting had put me behind in my normal Christmas cleaning, Christmas decorating, Christmas shopping, essentially everything. I went upstairs today to work and there wasn’t an empty spot to be had, well except for one, and that was the floor. Not that the floor isn’t covered too, but a little bit of pushing piles around with my foot did the trick. I grabbed a few brushes, a canvas, some acrylics, and sat on the floor in the midst of my disaster. I really had no idea what I wanted to paint. I started filling the canvas with paint, layering thickly with a brush. I hated it. I had a full size scraper within reach so off with the paint. Still no idea where things were going I tried again, scraped again, painted again, scraped again, and then something began to reveal itself. A reflection of color from above and below were left on the canvas, really beautiful, but I just couldn’t leave well enough alone, so I started adding paint, and I absolutely ruined it, scraped yet again. Meanwhile silently berating myself for not stopping, for not having enough confidence to know when to quit. Instead of the brush I grabbed a small palette knife and began to pick up some of my discarded paint, and again something began to reveal itself. I noticed in my box of paints a bright, deep pink, I dipped my knife in and smeared a little of it across the top of the canvas, and then I knew where the canvas wanted to go. Quite often when I go outside in the early morning, or at dusk here in Temecula there is a rich pink hue in the sky. It’s incredibly beautiful. I began to see my painting take shape. Mount San Jacinto Evening was born. Its been a really long time since I took the time to let the brush and canvas speak to one another. Sometimes I’m just trying too hard. Too often I concentrate on thinking that I don’t know what I’m doing.  Tonight I didn’t think, I painted, something I need to do more often.

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The Art Of Simplicity

I think I have spent years complicating my artistic process. When you focus on what you can’t do I think it tends to color what you can do. I have now spent forty days on my project. When I started I was focused on this idea of using up all of the materials I had filled my studio with over the years. I don’t think I really thought about the commitment to the work, or how it might affect me, and it has. Over the course of the last twenty years I have started far more projects than I’ve finished. Drawings, painting, even silly craft projects, where something didn’t look right, or I would make a mistake, or more likely, I would decide that whatever it was, it wasn’t good enough, and then the project was scrapped. Even now if I were to clean out the studio, and our garages, there would be a lot of half done paintings, pieces of wood, etc.. I had given up on myself and it is reflected in every unfinished project. What has happened to me in the last forty days is a transformation. I kept my promise to myself, and that’s a big accomplishment. I have produced more than fifty pieces of art in that time. Not every piece is something I love, or even like. But what is important, the biggest accomplishment is that in the process of creating those pieces I struggled with several, and didn’t stop.There were a couple that I was ready to quit, but I didn’t, I stuck it out. Some of those turned out to be some of the best work that I have created since I started this. I believe that forcing myself to confront this mental ball and chain I been dragging along has done great things for me.  My thought process is changing. The thoughts of what I can’t do are straying further and further from my mind. That is because I have forty days of “can do” looking me in the face. When you start something and you are already defeated, you have lost before you have begun. I have a quote on a magnet, I think it is Eleanor Roosevelt, but it states, “Do something everyday that scares you”. I bought it a few years ago when I was in another of the endless “new starts” that I promised myself. Sort of like all the diets that start next Monday, and  trust me I am very familiar with that one. The magnet has been sitting on my drawing table, and I have looked at it so often and thought, “It’s time”. I didn’t do it. I was afraid. Of what? Failure, maybe finding out that after all of the years of “what if?” I might discover that even if I had taken those art lessons I felt cheated out of, I still wouldn’t have been the artist I wanted to be. I am doing something every day, but guess what? I’m not afraid anymore. A little uncertain, yes. A little lost, yes. But things are getting better with every day, with every project. It’s simple. One project, one day at a time.

Two motivations behind tonight’s project. The first is that I am still trying to fulfill the object of the project. I bought a couple of mat boards at Blick last year simply because I liked that the size of the opening was different, it is long and rectangular. So when I went upstairs to see what I would do today I came across them and decided that whatever I did tonight needed to fit in that opening. The second motivation is that Dan likes pen and ink drawings. So for tonight a “simple” pen and ink.IMG_9705