I often read that it’s important to make art every day in order to really see progress reflected in your work. This is difficult when you work a standard job, but I’m giving it my best try! Every day I make it into the studio, even if it means just prepping a board, setting out the design for a painting or finishing a small study. This week I started a larger, 18″ x 24″ painting, thinking I would start the piece in earnest the next evening. But when that next evening came, my focus just wasn’t there. Not only that, but I realized that I didn’t know how to paint! The scene I had referenced was a little snowy creek scene and… I’ve never painted snow or a creek like that. All of a sudden I had no idea what to do first. I took the board down and put up a smaller, 9″ x 12″ board and laid the design down again. And then things started to fall into place; block in the larger shapes, find the darkest dark, and the lightest light and just… start. Since it was a Friday night, this painting session included a lovely, crisp Chardonnay… so at that point I’d had enough that it was time to stop. A great start!
The next day I had all day in the studio so an exhausting 5 hours later I was pretty happy with the results. The piece is tighter than I would prefer, but I managed to render the forms and light in a way which helped me understand how to tackle the larger version.
Last night I put the larger version back up on the easel and realized the original design was not well laid out. In the smaller version, I struggled with the snow bank on the right which comes forward and is mostly in shadow. Without much light, it looks like just a chunk of blue, so I turned the board around and laid out the design again, taking the snow off to the right earlier to eliminate that area. I had more of an idea on how to tackle this one now, technically. I also knew I wanted this one to be more loose. Larger brushes and a different attitude are in order.
A new year, a new studio, a new excitement for the work to come. After a long 5 or 6 month hiatus of house selling, purchasing, renovating, celebrating and setting up, now is the time to settle back into my work – life – paint pattern. The time away from painting has been extremely stressful (which, for someone with an immune system disease is not such a good choice), and yet we come out of it with a stunning new life and art space. The studio is at least double the size of our old one in just the work space. It also has supplies and fresh work storage space and the house also has space to hide away all that old work we can’t seem to part with. In addition, the house acts as a gallery space to showcase work as it comes off the easel and to cherish our small collection of work of other artists.
We are lucky. We are incredibly grateful. Yet there is a tiny, persistent line of tenuous running through life. We need to stay steady to maintain the home, our jobs and to start working on our art again.
And so it begins. This weekend will be the return to plein air painting even if the weather is somewhat chilly. This past weekend was the return to studio painting. Turns out I’ve been gestating knowledge and inspiration as evidenced in 3 wide but small landscapes. The way that my husband, Andrew Bartley works with darks and lights has rubbed off as I try to capture the light in the forest. I’ve been watching plein air videos and gathering my favourite paintings of marvelous artists on Pinterest. That wealth of skill layers up inside of me to be inspired by, eventually.
We also challenged each other by painting the same creek scene (below). Oh no, we’re not competitive at all!
This year my goal is to stay away from major life changes and focus on appreciating and maintaining our new home and studio and to paint landscapes. To exhibit the best of those (or maybe to hold them back for a 2-person show… maybe). Here we go.