Day 27. Around the Water Cooler.

“Taking a Break” 4x4, oil on canvas. Buy Now

Here’s the thing– by day 27, I’ve got all these stacks of paintings– some finished, posted pieces and others I just keep fooling around with and not really getting anywhere. 

But sometimes I just can’t finish a painting that feels 98% finished. My work days involve just me. I don’t have a water cooler to go to and talk smack to co-workers about how well my fantasy football team is doing (which is why I suppose I’m telling you that very true fact! Someone must know!). 

So my water cooler is this: today’s painting and the tiny, tiny little birds I so often find myself painting when I need to think about the other stuff. They are my breaks. I can work out some painting issues on them before trying it out on other surfaces and other subjects. Fortunately, after three years, they tend to come quite easily, and they renew my resolve. Without them, I’m afraid I would have skipped many of these 31 days or posted paintings long before they were ready. With only five days left, I’m hoping I can complete a few of the “almosts” in my stacks. But until then, here’s another water cooler painting. 

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Day 21. What Counts and Doesn’t.

“Chickadee on Green” 4x4, oil on canvas Buy Now

It’s the weekend of wedding paintings, I’m packing my bags in Florida and heading back to Louisiana for another one this evening (photos coming soon). 

It’s funny. I’ve been determined this month to not let any of my weddings “count” as one of my thirty-one paintings this month. They just feel so different to me, as though they break the rhythm of the month’s challenge.

It was all I could do to get this tiny little chickadee out today. Notice the red peaking through? 

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Day 20. Living the Dream

“New Heights” 6x6 oil on canvas Buy Now

This is about the time during a thirty day (well, thirty-one this time because why not pick a long month?) when my posts start getting shorter and shorter. The daily grind is getting to me. In good ways. 

I’m in Destin relaxing on the beach before I go paint at my first Florida wedding. If this isn’t living the dream, I’m not sure what is. I’ve been thinking a lot about success and failure, and the ways in which I constantly define and redefine those terms. 

As I walked the beach yesterday and ran around the resort this morning, I was joined by several great blue herons and egrets. Right now success feels like nothing more than making friends with a bird, and watching it take off in flight. 

The video below is from my walk yesterday. The painting is an egret. This is a great blue heron. But you get the idea. All paintings this month are 20% off the day they post!

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Day 15. Halfway there…but not Really

“Don’t Look at me Like That” 6x6, oil on canvas Buy Now

Typically day 15  is a mile marker, the halfway point. I know picking October for my painting a day challenge was ambitious. It’s not only that extra day, it’s the lack of a half way point altogether– will I celebrate tomorrow before I’ve finished day 16, when I am exactly 15.5 paintings in?

Paintings aren’t like that. They don’t have clear beginnings, middles, and ends the way days of the month do. I sometimes joke that I get 90% of my paintings done in the first twenty or so minutes and then spend hours or even days on the last 10% of the image. 

I’m happy to report that these pelicans (yesterday’s and todays) came easily and quickly. I’m eager to keep exploring these loose brush representations. Have you noticed I’ve barely picked up my palette knife at all this month? 

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Day 14. It’s Not You, It’s Me.

“First Love” 6x6, oil on canvas Buy Now

I know. I know. I don’t appreciate you as much as I should. The great blue heron with his great colors– blue, and purple and orange if you look closely enough and the egret with her grace– a white flash against purple skies. They have been my undeniable favorites, and I’ve marveled at them– their long necks and thin legs over your unfortunate grey-ness. 

But don’t think for a moment you don’t take my breath away when I’m on a boat and you fly beside me, reminding me that you too have surprising grace in the air. Or when you’re with a whole host of friends (herons and egrets tend to be less gregarious) and that long-beaked shape in repetition creates a beautiful, unending pattern that I’ve not seen anywhere else. 

I have not forgotten that it was you, your color, your shape, your presence in my life on Bayou St. John that first made me want to paint again. And though I often ignore you now that the thrill has subsided, it is you whom I turn to when I want to try new techniques, new colors, new ideas about painting. On day 14 I turn to you again trying to figure out how to reveal your majesty in as few shapes as possible, an exercise that was so fascinating that I quickly started a friend for tomorrow’s painting. 

 

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Life Is Like a Box of Pelican Paintings

Life Is Like a Box of Pelican Paintings

30x40in, oil on canvas. Buy Now

The pelican above has been my arch nemesis for months. We’ve been fighting. My weapon of choice– the palette knife. His– wings that reached on and on forever. They nearly knocked me out.

At first I thought the issue was the background. I couldn’t find suitable colors. They were either too bold for the pelican or too flat, forcing him to star in the painting in a way he wasn’t capable of. He needed to be part of his space. Not sitting on top of it or competing with it.

But the real issue ended up being those blasted wings. Perhaps it was a subconscious desire for him to extend his metaphoric reach, but sometimes you can only get so far before nature tells you, “That looks weird. Metaphors be damned.” (more…)