I’m wondering if he should be added to the picture up-coming, the bouquet of flowers with the window and the wise old owl. He might make a nice addition.
As currently planned there will be a songbird on the side of a porcelain vase. Adding this fellow means that there will be two songbirds — one flat, one three dimensional. I like that. Don’t know why.
I found three studies of roses in storage. We enter the time of roses. Soon we’ll see them blooming everywhere along our walks.
And I have flower paintings awaiting me. Finding these little studies whets my appetite for more flowers, for drawing flowers, for composing them in still lifes, for putting them into paintings.
Actually I will have two windows! This one has stuff (not pictured) in front of it now. But I will have a window that I can sit in front of — that I can look through — windows for dreaming — windows for drawing — windows for arranging the light in still life.
Ah! I will have a room with a view.
This side of the room will stay the same — but it will be much less cluttered — except for the still life table — I love that clutter!! There’s a book cabinet not pictured that has to be relocated. It is ginormous. Ai yi yi. Will deal with that in time … all in good time.
Eventually I will have nails in the wall above to hold the still life drapery. Goodness, this wall needs painting. (Will think about that later too.)
You can see the little owl peeking out from under the table. He’ll have a starring role in an upcoming picture. So that’s some glad news.
I become the little choo choo that could, I’m “thinking I can” all along the way ….
If you started reading a couple days ago you know that I’m reorganizing my studio. More than that I’m reorganizing my whole house — perhaps my whole life. I started reading Marie Kondo’s book “the life-changing magic of tidying up” because I knew I could use some help motivating myself to do this rather large and necessary task. I have become a real self-help book aficionado.
We live in marvelous times. No matter what the challenge, someone has probably written a book about doing it.
Live blogging the thoughts I have as I go through these changes helps me dream about where I want to be when the task is complete — not just where the stuff will be — where I want me to be. Mentally, physically, spiritually.
I find ideas and dreams along the way. Pictures that were behind other pictures in the stack see the light again. They suggest innovations. It’s a wonderful, wonderful process, house-cleaning is. But it’s a lot of work too and sometimes the destination seems so far off. It’s important to stay motivated. All this stuff pictured above has to be moved!
Along the way the rest of life needs attention. Dishes must still be washed, dogs must be hugged, groceries purchased, lawns mowed ….
Idle moment waiting in the car in the rain. I drew a little tree sketch in my pocket notebook. It was something to do. I like trees, love observing them in all kinds of weather. Drawing the tree was helping to keep me awake. It can be difficult staying alert during long periods of rain. Letting my eyes wander among the beautiful shapes made by the boughs of the tree was a pleasant venture.
It relates to other projects — even to other kinds of trees. I have a painting currently on hold that the little sketch helps me think about. I do paintings in waves of activity. Usually I start something, take it along a certain degree, then I put it aside. For me the interlude of separation appears to be a necessary part of the process of completing the picture. I used to chide myself for not finishing things. I didn’t realize that I needed the passage of respite from the image. I finish the pictures, but it takes longer than I had supposed. Now that I know this, I have a whole different relationship to the task.
Sometimes I make the seashells smaller than life size as here. The very small picture also has its own quality. Small things, ones that you can hold in your hand, seem precious. Sometimes a picture invites you to come closer.
When I visited the Joachim Wtewael exhibit at the National Gallery of Art, I admired the magnificent seashells in his painting of Andromeda. Those are life size. Andromeda puts her foot on one queen conch shell that is life size. But those very same shells appear in his microscopically small paintings too. Those are mind-boggling. I will never be traveling down that path. But it’s fun to see.
The drawing sheet was 18 x 24 inches large. As you can see the shell took up much of that space, but the real shell is not — no queen conch could be — that large. It would be a monster of a queen conch that was that large.
So what is the shell that’s larger than life size? It’s like a dream of a seashell.
I had so much fun drawing this shell. Seeing the photograph brings back the memory so vividly. It was a blast. I had to enlarge the thought while I was drawing and I loved it. I had never drawn any of the shells large before. I’ve never done it since.
But seeing this drawing now, I cannot wait to draw it large again. For now, though, I have other tasks because I am reorganizing my life. And I am tidying my home — just as Marie Kondo said I should.
In a previous post I wrote about making large paintings. When it comes to the seashells small is ideal. And the actual shell sitting in front of its portrayal illustrates some of the sensibility connected to painting things life size. I feel such a longing to have the thing be as actual as possible — which is not always the same as its being “realistic.”
I want to make a picture of the shell. I want the elements of the medium to be visible. Oil pastel is a beautiful substance in its own right. The drawing of the shell, wanting it to look actual, and the use of the oil pastel crayon, wanting to have the textures of the mark present in the picture — these things go together.
Then it’s fun to have the seashell “pose” in front of its portrait just as any sitter might do ….
The other element of painting large is finding a destination for the painting. Finding a place for it on one level is obvious: you sell it. Large works of art are luxury items so the field of buyers is more narrow than for many other commodities in the economy. Finding the right gallery representation and marketing the pictures to target audiences are new challenges that I begin tackling. In one sense, however, it is about more than sales.
Throughout history large works of art served specific purposes, sometimes the purposes were ones generated by the collector rather than the artist. The Church, for example, wanted large scenes depicting the stories of the Bible. Powerful rulers of city states wanted expressions of their authority. Today because of the visibility of large works in museums many artists are creating works (in some cases perhaps unknowingly) to go into museums. And creating art specifically for the museum environment is a fine ambition, but it does beg the question about how you get the picture accepted into the museum.
Because my paintings don’t fit into the contemporary museum culture, I need to find other venues. I think that part of the creativity of making large artworks involves that of discovering their proper destinations. In any case, at present, I am reorganizing my life so that at least some of the time the temporary destination can be on a wall in my own home. And that can be its way station on route to its other home.
We hear the old saying about not putting “the cart before the horse,” but truthfully when it comes to painting that’s exactly what you have to do. Without the cart, there’s really nothing for the horse to pull. Rather than carts and horses, it’s more a faith about “build it and they will come.” Before the painting can be some splendid thing on the wall … first you just gotta paint it.