I just had the anniversary of moving into my new house and studio. It’s been a crazy year full of lots of life’s ups and downs.
Both were pretty huge projects plus a series of personal challenges. There hasn’t much time for painting at least not consistently and I like to be consistent when it comes to painting. I’m still looking to find my stride and comfort zone in my new studio.
Don’t get me wrong, I love it and I know that it will be a productive and nurturing place for many years. I just haven’t carved the groove yet.
Carving out painting time has always been a priority and always has been a challenge. Even if where I’ve been in life, whether raising young children, mid-career, or I imagine when I’m taking care of adult parents.
There are always conditions that seem as though they are interfering with painting. I suggest that we reframe our disposition about this by embracing the chaotic, paradoxical, and unknowable nature of our human condition.
This human condition is what serves as the impulse to create. In these very uncertain times, rather than be overwhelmed and retreat into inactivity, it’s important to muster our energy and put it towards the creation of that which is bright and beautiful rather than collapse into the darkness.
I see that as my first job as an artist.
I’m not saying this is easy. Some days this is akin to lifting an elephant. Other days I don’t see what all the fuss was about and it feels like lifting a feather. It seems as though all the paintings will be painted, all the lessons will be created and it will be easeful and joyful.
Keeping turned to the joy should be easy. But as most of us experience, it’s not that simple and takes a great deal of discipline. So, that is what I do.
So, I’m going to take some of my own advice. I wrote a blog posting a couple years back on setting out a work plan. Here it is again for you and for me! The content is different for me now, but not the approach.
It’s hard to believe that we’re heading into winter, but as it approaches and I look forward to some solid studio time, I’m working on a plan to make the very most of this precious time. There are several aspects to this planning; first I’ve formed some basic ideas about what I want to accomplish.
I want expand the body of figurative work and depend my study of the figure. I have in mind to do several large-scale figures.
- I’d want to do 3 or 4 that are more what I would characterize as scenes of multiple figures working in various environments.
- I want to do 3 or 4 of single figures doing simple everyday things such as ironing, getting dressed, drinking from a glass.
- I want to do 3 or 4 of men working.
- I’d like to have at least 5 or 6 of these pieces be large oils. Very dynamic with strong graphic shapes along with the “detail” elements.
So what do I need to do to prepare for this? I want to think about how they will be framed from the get go. This way I can best choose sizes and canvas widths. I haven’t settled on framing for the figures, so that’s one of the first things I’ll try to resolve when I’m home from this trip.
Once this is decided I’ll go shopping for materials. Then I don’t have to constantly we interrupted by this task. As best I can since I know that since this is new work, I’ll probably be discovering things as I go along that I’ll want to use. I’ll also do a check around the studio for canvases that I could use.
I want to look at the best figurative art that I like, so a trip to a couple good libraries and some time spent on the internet looking at contemporary figure painters.
Next step will be to actually start; the hardest part. I’ll print out some copies of the pieces I’ve already done, so I can see what I like about them and what I want to do differently.
Then start doing thumbnails from the reference I’ve been gathering. I’ll need to line up a couple models and make some calls to a couple contractors I know, about getting shots of workers.
From the thumbnails I’ll begin three or four under-paintings at a time. This will give me a beginning always in the works.
Then there is the mental aspect of this as this time of year will come with it’s own challenges and some distractions. The holidays are a time of year I really enjoy and want to again this year. So I’ll try to prepare ahead of time, so I can participate without feeling torn by my desire to be in the studio.
It also gets cold and I have a hard time with this in the studio. I have to get ready both by having my studio ready for the cold. That means, lots of layers of cloths for painting. Basically, I just need to be mentally set for the change about to come.
I’ll have my space heaters at the ready and my batteries and candles ready for any outages! Maybe I’ll get the chance to paint by candlelight.
I have to remember that my intent is not to achieve some final action as a painter. It is to simply be turned to the joy of painting.
Maybe to get a little better, to go a little deeper. I want to find the groove and then groove to it.
With Warmest Regards,