What is it about the artistic process? Whenever I have a good day, even a breakthrough day, where everything flows and the painting almost paints itself, I should know by this time that the next day it will probably all fall apart. It’s just the way the brain and the creative process work.
Today was a fall-apart day. I worked for almost four hours on a painting that seemed to get off to a great start, and then … nothing. I wiped paint off. Took mineral spirits and a paper towel and wiped some more. Started over again. Seemed to gain some momentum, and then … not so much.
This of course led to my losing confidence. Losing sight of my initial vision. Losing faith I should even be making art in the first place. I’ve painted long enough to know intellectually that I need to step away when this begins to happen. Some artists, I’m told, even put their painting face to the wall, almost like a time out.
But I can be stubborn and obtuse. So I kept trying. But it was just not meant to be. I finally wiped and scraped one last time and humbled myself before the wrecked painting. Sigh.
I did mention, though, that I can be stubborn and obtuse. The stubborn part served me well today, for instead of giving up completely, I calmly took out another canvas and started anew. I realized I’d gotten caught in the tricky web of attaching myself to results instead of relishing in letting the painting tell me what it wanted to be. I also realized this would be a good chance to get back to the basics.
So I decided to focus on simple shapes and values using the colors that were left over from the palette of my failed painting, and “August Dawn: Deer Isle” was born. I’ll see if it tells me anything else when I visit the studio again after a night away, but all in all, I was pleased with the results. I realized that keeping it simple is probably a good philosophy to stick with during this 30-day challenge.
By the way, Deer Isle (which is in Maine) is one of my top five favorite places in the world. That’s another thing you probably didn’t know about me. It’s off the beaten path, but it is serene and gorgeous and like no other place I’ve ever been. The dawns and dusks are spectacular. There are lots of trees (especially firs) and fields and the ocean and a bay peppered with little islands that look like muffins. There’s a really great bridge to drive across as well. My heart skips a beat in happy anticipation every time I go over it when I visit in the summer or fall.