Ups and downs
Life is so up and down, this little roller coaster of experience, and almost all of it invisible to anyone not inside my head. Every day, I ride this sine wave of excitement, worry, fear, joy, concentration, distraction, focus, procrastination, love, angst… At the end of the day, all there is to show for so much emotional drama is a painting (or not), and yet that painting often reflects very little of how the day felt.
Last week I found a new painter whose work was really exciting to me, Sarah Sedwick. At first, this made me feel bad, because here was yet another person able to do what I want but usually can’t do. Plus, she’s teaching classes around the country and, presumably, selling her work pretty regularly. Sometimes I take this to mean I should just put everything away and find something new to do, since someone’s already doing what I want to do, and how many me’s does the world need? And yet, that yucky day, I made a decent little painting of azalea blossoms (below, left).
The next day, I came back, decided to see if I could maybe take a class with Ms. Sedwick, and found her blog, which includes some demo videos. So, I started watching these, and found them to be really exciting in terms of thinking about developing a painting process that is more likely to support the outcomes I hope to achieve than what I’ve got so far. (Hers is: detailed monotone underpainting; pre-mix colors; apply paint deliberately and resist the urge to go back in and fuss with strokes already placed.)
Anyway, after I found Ms. Sedwick’s videos, I watched several, got totally excited, but didn’t paint a thing. Good day, yet no painting.
Came in the next day and worked up a little piece trying to adhere to Sedwick’s process and, while I really liked the process, produced a dark and mediocre little painting (below, top right) when I’d been hoping to produce a wee bit o’ joy. Still, I stayed curious and open and tried to be encouraging in my head, as opposed to letting the killjoy get too vocal. So, decent work day, mediocre painting. (Of course, since a transformative miracle did not occur in my painting, I felt sort of disappointed — classic!)
Today, an effort to try her process again, see if I can learn from the gooey mess of the other day, and to stay both deliberate in my painting and kind in my head (below, bottom right).