Thursday, February 13, 2014

Number 30, It's Only The Beginning.......

I know, a bit late, the rest who did this 30 paintings in 30 days are well onto other things now, but I knew I had to finish the 30th one, so I have, here it is.  Funny, or not so funny, Number 30 was the most difficult to get to.  You'd think that my momentum would be so high by 30 it would be the easiest, it wasn't.  My inspired energy was flat, I was more into thinking than painting, easily swayed to watch the Olympics or the Knuckleheads, not the same high energy enthusiasm that I had for the first 25 or so.  I tried to get "into" it, bought some new panels, usually some new materials does it, nope.  In fact, they are still in the bag, except for my new light, it's set up and I can paint as if it is daytime, yay.

So, to explain this painting in a few words, it was not my intentional Number 30.  My intentions were to paint an interior scene, have a great photo.  But I somehow got distracted from that somewhere along the way, and ended up painting over a sketch on masonite I did back in around 1989.  This challenge really has given me the time to explore many things, and different surfaces is one of them.  I decided, in my artistic wisdom, that I could make a rich thick heavy impasto painting a la "Group of Seven-ish" if I use the masonite and layer on gobs of thick paint.  I am here to announce, it failed.  Back to square do something else, okay.  I don't know how that Ken Faulks does those magical paintings. I think this is a sign, again, to appreciate the wonders of life, and try to conquer what is right for me, right.

SO, in my defeated down trodden sense of loss, I stared into the black hole of creativity, and wondered if I had another plein air sketch I could paint over, a small one that was sketched in during one of those torturous mornings of days before. I found one.  I remember this day well, a clear day in December, the Alfs were at Mount Douglas Park. I was still under the belief I could adjust to this plein air stuff, sure I could, I can do it.  I had no sleep, arrived there at about 9:30, thinking it was not too bad a day out, not too far from home if I begin to cave in from no sleep, it should be fine.  I gathered up my stuff, and set off to find a nice spot to paint, shouldn't be difficult, this really is MY KINDA THING to paint afterall, I even felt somewhat excited about it.

Well into my trek, I discovered it was chillier out than I realized, and that I'd better get painting soon or I might die from exposure just looking for a good spot. I decided to stop by the edge of the path along the ravine, faced the misty morning glow of sun filtering through the trees.  There were no fall colours like the painting, it was pretty cold and grey in colour, but the light was as it always is there, breathtaking.  It only took me another 45 minutes to set up, cold hands and bumpy edge of the path make for slow set ups.  By the time I'm squeezing my paint onto my palette, my numb nose was running and my inner core was trembling with the cold.  Inner core is "fitness lingo", it means I was shivering on the inside.  I knew I had to get painting fast, keep moving, get it on there NOW!  You know, this plein air thing, it's not what it's cranked up to be, but I kept bravely going forward as I knew I must.  My tiny canvas was as if it were a 5 ft by 6 ft wall, every stroke onto it looked wrong, not only could I not paint, I couldn't see, or think.  Hands.  Yes, my hands are numb, so I went looking for gloves in my bag.  Gloves??  Are you kidding me??  As if you thought to put gloves in your bag, think again.  Oh right, okay...then maybe I can find something to put over my hands. Aaa HA, I found two plastic bags, I wrapped them around my frigid hands and held onto my brush and did my best to at least get SOMETHING on there.

I have to admit, I had to give up, just way to ffffff ing cold.  I did remember to bring my camera, so gave myself the excuse to leave with the intention of finishing it at home.  I don't think I even socialized at the noon show and tell time, I may have socialized, but I only recall running back to my car with my stuff, praying that I'd live.  No sleep, old, tired, cold, not properly dressed for the elements... so what's wrong with studio painting, anyways?? Works for me.  When I got home I looked at my little effort, and thought what a ghastly mishmash it was, and let it dry and be forgotten until tonight.  When I found it, it looked like it had more potential than my "a la Group of Seven-ish" mess, why not make it a painting, so I did.  I didn't use the photograph I took that morning, no surprise there, I know, just thought I reiterate that bit of information.

I planned on allowing myself to type endlessly for Number 30, so I am.  The other evening a friend asked me "why?" I was doing this 30 paintings in 30 days Challenge, good question, why?  I tried to remember before I started Number 1 why I chose to take it on.  Good question, not sure.  Why do people hike into the wilderness in freezing temperatures to paint?   Why oh why do we do this for the purpose of art?  I suppose one the most important answers is the fact that sometimes we need to commit to something different in order to get something more out of what we already do on a regular basis.  It wasn't a real need for me to get me going, I do paint regularly, usually, well..try to.  I had been on Christmas break, so something different felt like a good choice for me to join the paintmobile with friends via the innernets. I think when I was leaning on my elbow gazing into my computer screen, I had no plans of picking up any art challenges, just scrolled along and saw Gerry Meller's post of wondering if he should take the challenge, it caught my eye, and just like that, I said I'd do it too.

In my mind, I thought I'd do quick studies each day, easy and basic.  No, every time I hit the studio, my mood influenced my choice of what to do.  I really did cover a lot of stuff I'd left on the shelf over the years. I dug up old photos from a time before of different instructors.  It was a life in review challenge for me, dig up and see if I can remember, and golly if I didn't recall stuff I had forgotten.  It's been very like a class in art, an immersion into all the art lessons and experiences along the way, many years of failures, many years of struggles, many years of trying to fit in, many years of trying to make the acceptance margin.  A lot of soul searching has taken place over the past month for sure.

So, I conclude, what I got from the challenge far out weighed what I expected of myself.  I expected I'd probably play along and be slower than the rest, that proved right. I expected I'd create nothing but landscape sketches, I proved that wrong, I tackled all kinds of things I don't usually choose to paint.  I never did set up that still life I planned on doing, just realized that now.  I followed my impulses of the day of what I wanted to paint, and rediscovered that excited feeling of trying something different, and it turning out not-too-bad.  I gathered ideas for big paintings, a new incentive that I probably wouldn't have if I didn't take the challenge.

But best of all, I enjoyed the online social aspect of art again. My sense of belonging with fellow artists has returned in a positive way, not competitive.  I understand the meaning of fellowship and respect of each other as individuals.  I feel completely blown away at the response to my posts of my efforts from all who I know, and some who I don't know. I have found a way to love my computer again, another place to put my wordy words again... Blogspot dot com...YAY!!!  I may even post some bad poetry here, just won't link it to Facebook.

I really am one of the luckiest people in the world!


  1. Well done Mary Ann!!! Congratulations on completing the challenge. I applaud your perseverance for sticking with it and I'm really glad that you got some good things out of it. Yes, the social aspect of blogging is definitely a big bonus. Thank you for all of the comments that you gave me. It was greatly appreciated!

    1. Thank YOU, Sharlene, I am so happy for taking the ride along with you and the others, been really good for me. Now lets keep this up, eh? :)

  2. I am so glad you stuck with it and finished!! Congratulations! I found your words very appropriate many times as I was going through exactly the same processes. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Marcela, me too! The best part has been reconnecting with the positive energies of fellow artists, a place where I feel understood really helps my mood issues :) a place where I feel cared about, and where being a bit nuts is okay. I am grateful in so many ways.