Preparation is oh so important.
I’ve never thought of myself as a strategist. Let me tell you, up next to my brother Fred, who was a fabulous strategist, I could never measure up.
What I’m realizing is that there is a lot of strategy involved in planning paintings. So the game of “Risk” just wasn’t my thing. I don’t think I won a sing game against my brother. But I digress.
Strategy and preparation have been big on my mind this past weekend. Currently I’m in the process of my next series focused entirely on Tulips. It all begins with taking some photos, printing those photos, then selecting ones that I think would be great paintings.
From the selected image, I then make some decisions about what size canvas I want to put the image on to. In the case of the white tulip above, the bottom 1/3 of the image is not very interesting, so I will want to crop that out in the painting. And the top right hand side is not very interested either. So I will crop the image down to keep the centre of the flower as the focal point. With all that cropping a vertical rectangle feels like the correct proportions to capture this image.
Once the canvas is stretched I put several layers of medium on the raw canvas to be sure that the fibres are well sealed. Oil paint is acidic and over time it will deteriorate the canvas if the surface isn’t prepared properly.
The strategy and planning that goes into each canvas is an extension of my creative license. Yes, there are some technical skills that need to be respected, but size, dimension, surface material etc are all up for me to choose. I find this really exciting because I get to ‘feel’ my way through the decisions.
In the example that I gave about the white tulip above, I get to decide on the cropping and composition, knowing my artist eye likes to keep the focal point on the most dramatic part of the scene. I love that.
I hope you have enjoyed this little glimpse into the studio. Let me know if you have any questions by leaving a comment below.
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Your voice matters.
While I was working on this little sketch yesterday morning I was thinking a lot about why my art, my voice, your voice, your preferences matter.
What I came to realize, and I've known for some time, is that what I have to say through my art or my words, is unique and valuable. Just as your voice is important, however you express that voice.
I think, particularly now with all that is going on in the world, we can feel a bit overwhelmed and silenced. A bit paralyzed really. I assure you this is a natural response. I've been feeling much the same way and working on other things rather than painting. Yesterday was my first foray into creating art again. This little drawing was the inspiration to pick up the pencil and begin again.
I was shocked by how this happened. I was sitting in the yard in the sunshine and this idea/internal voice said "sketch this beautiful peony leafing out." My response was to just go do it. Rather than the litany of negotiating that often happens. By negotiating I mean the internal qualifying of an impulse, the rationalizing, the deciding. I just acted versus thinking too much about it.
This is what triggered the notion of my voice. Why this peony, why now, why the motivation? Because for my well being this voice, creating a new drawing, is me resurfacing after all these sudden changes. I've also lost a childhood friend to cancer so I know that I'm grieving her as well. In a nutshell, I have not felt up to creating much.
That all changed with this drawing. My inspiration was showing me the way back to my creative process. I love that I just followed and feel much better for it.
During this time of uncertainty, what are you drawn to act on? It could be a knitting project, baking bread, going for a walk, calling a friend to chat. All of these gestures are elements of your creativity and voice. Just act. Allow yourself to show up however you feel compelled. Your voice matters, a lot. Perhaps more now than ever as we are all grappling with the changes.
Please share your voice with us (tears spring to my eyes, instantly as I write this.) What you are inspired to add to this beautiful life experience will help you and it will help all of us. Don't be shy. Express yourself.
,What I'm hearing is the most difficult part of sheltering in place is the not seeing other other people. This is such an unusual time we are living and yet there are so many blessings happening as well. The duality of it all never ceases to amaze me.
I'm also aware, with the loss of seeing others in person, we have lost some of the exchange of love that we are accustomed to. Yes, we can use social conferencing platforms, face time etc. But you know what these platforms don't do is provide that physical touch. That physical love that we exchange each time we are together.
If you are anything like me, then you likely have a box of cards that you have kept, love notes, that others have sent to you over the years. I realize the notes that my mother sent me over the years, in her own handwriting are something that I will keep for the rest of my life. Her love is steeped in the words that she wrote to me. These cards are priceless.
During this time of social isolation we have that same opportunity to send our loved ones special notes written in our own hand. They may even be treasures that they keep for a lifetime.
There's a nice opportunity that all of us have.
Do you have a box of cards that you have kept? I'd love to hear your stories. Leave a comment below.
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