My art life has been one of solitude since the pandemic abruptly shifted so much of my perspective, interests and focus. I have stayed grounded in the white sand, aqua waters and blue skies. But this past weekend, I ventured to the quiet side of the panhandle and rediscovered the forgotten coast. Apalachicola and Mexico Beach were a wonderful diversion from the fast-paced spring break happenings around me. Time moves slower and stress melts away under the afternoon sun.
Back home, I’ve taken up walking the neighborhood everyday, listening to children’s laughter and meeting up with nearby residents managing their day-to-day operations with a little help from their friends. Between one and two miles on foot affords a new way of looking at things, too.
So back at the studio, I dug through a forgotten trove of oil paints, colors that dared me to open their tubes and experiment. These small paintings are the first of many, I hope, that serve to open new possibilities and create new adventures, escaping from the norms and daring to walk where I was scared to go before. My eyes are sensitive to bright lights and my soul too sensitive to bright colors. This is a start. I hope you continue to follow along on this wild journey with me, remembering to explore the unknown and allow yourself room to run or walk, eyes wide open, to all the new possibilities of the day.
A crazy thing happened in the studio yesterday. Well, I think it was a crazy thing. The sun was streaming in the windows, warming the 60’s outside to 70’s inside, and there I was, painting with a passion, listening to Christmas music and not really thinking about anything . . . just appreciating the creative process in the moment.
I work on several panels at a time, mainly because of drying time and the need to step away for awhile. Had several good ones going and wrapped up the day with a two smalls, a medium and midway on a larger piece. Picked up my phone to take a few photos for my website and social media, and suddenly it dawned on me — I subconsciously used the very same color as the sweater I was wearing. It was weird. My black apron blocked most of the sweater from sight, but the sleeves were definitely in my line of vision. Now this was not straight out of the tube green I’m talking about. No. Multiple oil paints had to be combined to create the color, and I didn’t see the match until it was finished.
The mind is an amazing engine, and it certainly works on cruise control. Can’t explain it. Just marvel at it and keep creating.
It had a rough start on life, coming out of a plastic bag of bird seed, only to be wasted by a careless cardinal. Yet, the little seed luckily dropped in the bird bath water where it sprouted miraculously. I gently planted the little sunflower with the herbs, where high hopes of magnificence quickly faded into reality as it hugged the stone wall for support and did its best to grow strong and bloom beautifully. But it was short of amazing, borderline ugly by sunflower standards. I watered it and fertilized it. Still, it simply looked so lonely and tired, ready for compost.
Wait, though . . . there is purpose in all life.
It became my inspiration, and today I memorialized my little bud. It was all part of an art exercise, one that I have never been tasked with before. Here were my instructions:
Today I want you to make an ugly painting. Yup – deliberately ugly! Let loose and make whatever marks you want – do NOT try to pretty it up. Use whatever colors you fancy and don’t try to choose things that look good together – in fact, choose things that might look bad!
Your only aim here is to notice the feelings that arise when you stop trying to get a good result and simply play with paint.
Way out there, and I admit I cheated a little and went for at least a little pretty at the end, trying to salvage little sunflower’s portrait . . . but not too much as I pride myself on being a good student.
The exercise was a good one, teaching me to learn to love failure, or at least accept it as a normal progression to growth. I’m sharing this with you today in the hopes that whatever you are holding back in your life because of the fear of failure, trust that it won’t be the end of the world, the sky won’t fall and you just might learn that any move forward could lead you to a whole new adventure in finding the true you.
I started the week with a new challenge that has evolved into a new direction that I am loving and thought I’d share. Perhaps you have tried this before, but it’s new to me and super helpful.
In an effort to introduce a new palette to my work, with Valentine’s Day in mind, I gathered objects from around my home in colors I loved, taking each into the studio and doing my best to match the oils to the objects. Working abstractly, I was able to loosen up more, exploring and playing without worry. Give it a try and let me know what you think. This Love Collection is now available. I’d love for you to come by the studio to see it in person and maybe even purchase something sweet for your sweetheart and you. Happy Valentine’s Day from my heart to yours.
Here’s a new series. I found myself trapped in duplication mode and needed to escape to a dreamier vision of my art day. There is so much freedom in self expression when you don’t try so darn hard to duplicate from a photo, to follow some path to an unknown place in your head and heart. At least that is the experience I have so enjoyed recently.
More than a feeling . . . close your eyes and slip away.
Far away from reality, yet close enough to come back to when you are ready. It is refreshing to play again. My art practice has kept me sane this past year, as we have all likely found new ways to cope with crazy. I’m not nearly as productive as I was in years past, but I have accepted that reality and forgive myself for casting aside the I-gotta-accomplish-more-everday theory of a good life. Instead, I need to dream more, and paint more, love more and pray more. After all, these are some of the best accomplishments.
Studio visits welcome. Call or text when you want to come by. 850-585-7689. Please wear your mask.