Of Sketching, Gardening, and Painting
My painting has been sporadic these last couple of years, while I’ve gardened intensely at our new home (intensity is a necessity on a half acre of dirt). I’ve wanted to correct that (both the dirt, and the infrequent painting). Steadiness in character is a good thing, I’m told. So. Just as spring began in earnest this year, I promised myself that I would paint steadily again. One day every week. Spring does that for me; it suggests bright plans, makes grand adventures feel attainable. Plus there’s something about gardening (of course gardening! it’s spring!) that energizes the painter in me. Gardening and painting are a blessed convergence. And I while I believe that I can do this, paint once a week…I haven’t yet. I think I’ve painted two days in the last four (or five?) weeks. Still, two painting days in a month are better than no days at all!
Also, knowing that my time in the studio is precious, my painting strategy is looser, more experimental (I tell myself). With delight in little abstractions, brave gestures….I hope to reach more for the “wheee!!” of play rather than suffer the anxiety of perfection.
A Sketch is Like…An Audition
I begin with a sketch. I love charcoal for sketching…it is bold and gutsy and maybe a little like a magic feather; I believe I can fly when I’m using it. Therefore, my lines are gutsier and bolder than they would be with a pencil. Sketching is sort of like auditioning to myself (schizophrenia is traditionally acceptable in art)…is this idea good enough for a painting? Do I like the division of space—the general composition? And if I do, then I sketch again on my canvas (see poppies sketched on blue). And then paint. Often, the canvas sketch is entirely lost in paint. But it’s a good place to start.
Trivia: Behind the blue on the poppy canvas above lies a mysterious woman. Who had a bad eye. Which I wiped out, making her look like a scary beautiful zombie pirate. She haunted me til this spring, when I realized I could hide her behind a layer of blue and paint poppies on top. So thrifty of me. I hope she leaves me alone now…ever read “The Yellow Wallpaper”? Yikes.
A Study is Like…An Understudy?
Here is another painting, which (as it turns out) I decided to call a study, once I finished it (I don’t have finished pictures yet…these are just sketches). Meaning: I want to do it again, bigger, with less negative space. The ladies and flowers larger in the scene. I’m a little myopic…Panoramic scenes do nothing for me. I adore closeups. I’ll post the finished painting/study in the next day or two.
A Face is the Ultimate Bloom…
And here’s the beginnings of one that may tempt me to perfectionist anxiety. But I’ll fight that. It will be of my youngest daughter, close up. You can see how the sketch improved with just one more iteration, when I transferred the sketch from paper to canvas. I’m always happy with improvements….
A painter that I admire very much told me never to let a painting become precious (at least while I’m painting it). I’ve found the advice to be good, when I can keep it. My unprecious paintings are the least inhibited, the most free…the happiest. Here is one I painted in an hour or so a couple of summers ago, not expecting wonderfulness, just having fun. Also serendipitous: though I was painting an Anthropologie model’s face, she looks a lot more like my mother. Happy day.
I’ll show finished paintings as soon as they’re done…which technically (if I stay on schedule) should be this week, but. I have lavender babies to plant in my garden this week too…
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