Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Beauty in the Midst of Chaos

Lately my heart has been heavy. Everywhere I look, families, marriages, and nations -- are becoming divided and falling apart. I feel burdened with a weight I can't possibly bear, because it feels like there is nothing I can do to ease the pain or mend what is torn.

Through the pain I just keep painting. I paint because there is nothing else I can do, at this moment, besides pray. I remember why I am a painter, and most especially a portrait painter: because PEOPLE are what matter. Human beings, with all their flaws, selfish urges, and imperfections... and human beings, with all their strength, passion, beauty, and divine spirit. If only we could show each other unconditional love and respect... the true reflection of the Good and the Beautiful.

But we are flawed. I see it in myself every single day and I just paint on through, as if by painting I'll see the world (and myself) more objectively and somehow rise above the chaos. What is there to lose? It's just paint, and canvas, and time. Not time spent solving the world's problems, but solving little problems, one by one, in order to bring something of beauty to the table.

Enough rambling, though. Here are a few of my latest offerings.

"Study in Yellow," 6x6" - oil on linen panel

"Aspen Grove" (plein air, completed on the Deer Mountain Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park) - 12x9" - oil on linen panel 

"North Light Peonies," 9x12" - oil on linen panel


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Oh Whatever... Just Paint What You Love

I had grand plans of hiking in the mountains over Fourth of July weekend, but instead my daughter came down with a cold and consequently, so did I. Thankfully, I still got some time to paint. So here were my holiday "fireworks," a sketch of some day lilies from our back yard.

"Day Lilies" - 10"x10" oil on gallery wrap linen

I painted these freely and without worrying whether or not they would turn out. I've been slowly learning that the best paintings are done with a positive assumption that they will turn out, no matter what bumps or hiccups they meet along the way.

I've also been re-learning to paint with my canvas and reference photo upside down when I'm doing studio work. Over the weekend I also finished this 12x16 studio piece of my sister in law sitting at her cherry grand piano. Lindsay has such a perfect face that sometimes it's hard to capture her likeness. By flipping the painting sideways and/or upside down, I was able to see her proportions more objectively and therefore get it right.

"Composing Thoughts" - 12x16" - oil on linen

These two paintings are both direct manifestations of subject matter/people/colors/etc. that I love. As hard as I try to objectively separate design from subject matter (see my last post), I simply can't. Perhaps that will still happen eventually, but I have an emotional connection to my paintings, and that's why I create them.

I'm just throwing this out there... but could this emotional connection be because I'm a woman? Take for instance the works of Richard Schmid and his wife Nancy Guzik. Both are world-class painters, whose styles are similar... but different. Richard is one of the people I credit with my choice to become a professional artist. But upon seeing Nancy's work, I happened to relate more to her paintings than Richard's. Why is that? Someone once told me, "Richard loves to paint, Nancy loves what she paints." There is a very important difference there, one which I relate to as a deeply emotional and relational being. Richard's paintings sing with panache and bravado - they test the very limits of what paint is capable of. Nancy's take you to a quieter place and render you breathless with their mastery of color and their sensitivity towards the subject. I relate more to Nancy. Neither are right or wrong... just different.

So as I've been trying to come to terms with what I'm learning from Quang Ho and the many powerful contemporary painters I've been fortunate enough to meet... I realize that I've forgotten what I have to bring to the table.

I don't want to paint like anyone else. I didn't choose this job for the money, fame, or to be in grand museums and written about in art books. I chose art because it's what I was meant to do, and I have a voice of my own... one that is unlike any other's and one that is only mine to share.

Yes, perhaps my work has a feminine touch to it that at its worst might be called indulgent and overly sentimental. But at its best it is sensitive, honest, and relatable... and don't human beings--especially during these trying times--need to relate to one another?

So, I continue the quest to make my artworks powerful and meaningful... while being true to the voice God gave me.  Fellow artists, consider this my encouragement to do the same. :-)
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