Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Crow Landing / oil on black canvas / 5x7 unframed / $68 includes shipping
DURING THIS TIME
of isolation and quiet, I've been painting a lot.
For years, I've painted pretty much every day - but before this, my painting days were often broken up. Shopping, cooking, cleaning. Visits with friends, lunches out, meetings, trips to the Y, and to Virginia Beach, and heaven knows what else. I'd paint four or five hours a day. Now, many days, it's nearly twice that.
I say "I paint," but of course, it's not all painting. I inventory and order materials and supplies. I blacken and wire canvases. I look for subjects to paint. But if I am in the studio for nine or 10 hours a day - and often, these days, I am - I'm painting for eight or nine of those hours. And I feel like I'm making progress, that all this time is amounting to something. Taking me somewhere.
Looking for a blank notebook yesterday, I ran across a ledger from 2009. For the first few months of the year, I'd listed all the paintings I'd made, and there were 23 or 24 each month. They were mostly small - and cheap!
I am cheered to see that I'm continuing that sort of pace. This year, I have photographs of more than 50 bird paintings I've made so far, and I haven't counted the other pieces I've finished.
By the time I started out in this painting life, I had 25 years of newspaper experience. Twenty-five years of daily deadlines. When I floundered at Being an Artist, at the beginning of this journey, I sought success in what I knew, and set deadlines. I required myself to make at least one painting a day.
Over the years, this sort of productivity has helped me develop my voice. It's helped me build the muscles I rely on to push all the crap aside right now and forge ahead. It helps me try new things when I am pretty sure I have the strength to do the lifting. And it helps me know when that is.
A new painting I finished last week, the start of a series of people talking while they are walking their dogs, is one that I've been thinking of for a few years. At the time, I knew I didn't have the chops for these paintings. Last week, I thought, I do. And so I set out to make this painting - and I love the way it came out.
So if you are a painter, an artist, a writer, musician, whatever - if you are seeking a creative outlet and want to sharpen your abilities - the best thing you can do, I think, is to produce. Good, bad, middling, whatever - the point is to make the art, write the sentence, compose the music, and go from there. Look at what's good about the piece - what you like about it - and what you'd change. And then, in the next one, which will happen today or this afternoon or tomorrow, change that thing. And then do it again. And again. And again.
In this time of loss and now of isolation, I work hard to be grateful. I thought I'd share a gratitude with you all each day, at least for a while.
If you'd like to share things that you're grateful for, you can use the comments below, or email me... I'd love to hear what you're grateful for. So here is today's:
Though Peter is gone, I am grateful, so very grateful that I found him,
and that I had him as my husband since 1988.
"There is no word for art. We say it is to transfer something from the real to the unreal. I am an owl, and I am a happy owl. I like to make people happy and everything happy. I am the light of happiness and I am a dancing owl."
- Kenojuak Ashevak
April 07, 2020
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a bird a day
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palette knife painting
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