Day 21. Live Wedding Painting– You get to do this!

This is my live wedding painting from last night at The New Orleans Board of Trade– a venue in the CBD I’d not heard of before but would LOVE to visit again. The night before, I did a live wedding painting (okay, SEO, am I saying live wedding painting enough?) at Magnolia Plantation in Elmwood. 

Weekends like this one can feel a bit strained. I’ve got to get a sitter or rely on family. I’ve got to make sure my “moving studio” has everything it needs. I have to make sure I’m not out of white paint (always!). 

It’s easy for me to fall into the “I don’t want to do this” trap, but I’ve learned to acknowledge the strain and the same time add this very gentle reminder– “I get to do this.”. I actually get to do this. 

Here’s a few pictures that might help illustrate what I mean. See ya’ll Monday! 

 

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“I’m Sorry” and The Art of Apologizing

Oh hey, Easel.

You’re looking a little rough these days. After a long weekend of being thrown in the back of my paint-stained car only to be promptly unloaded into my paint-stained studio on repeat, you’ve got a few wears and tears; so do I. It’s Monday, and I don’t really want to even make eye contact with you because, quite frankly, I need a break, though we’ve got some unfinished business. Our particular disfunction is this– you are often both the source of my stress and my release from it.

Recently we went to an event where I was donating, and my name was printed incorrectly on a sign above you (and elsewhere)– more than a misspelling, but a different, somewhat similar, name altogether. Small potatoes. A mistake I or anyone could have easily made, but one that wasn’t promptly corrected when I pointed it out. You and I– we’ve been getting paint on my car and my hard-wood floors because we never stop; we’ve been working for almost four years for people to know that name so that they will know the art that’s being tirelessly created. We’ve won awards and travelled the country because we’re providing a good life for precious child, so I don’t know about you, but in that moment it kind of felt like all the work we’ve been doing was unnoticeable, unimportant, laughable even. And it wasn’t so much the mistake, really, but the lack of concern with fixing it. When alerted to it, women who were not even responsible for the error, apologized sincerely and worked to correct it. The man who was actually responsible, eventually apologized with a condition– at least he’d gotten it right elsewhere. Really?

I just wanted an honest-to-God, meaningful apology and what seemed to me to be an easy fix.

I’ve been working on my own “I’m sorry’s” lately because I find myself (and women I know) using them more than they are warranted, perhaps robbing them of their power. All the while there are those that can’t seem to admit to and correct what is even minor human error. I’ve caught myself apologizing to Siri when I’ve stumbled over my words asking her for directions on my iphone. I say “I’m sorry” when someone bumps into me or when I’ve been inarticulate to someone about a decision I’m wrestling with. I almost said it when I asked them to fix my name on the sign above you. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I might as well say, “I’m sorry for taking up too much space.”

But last week I caught myself. Every time my mouth routinely opened to say “I’m sorry” I paused and asked, is this a circumstance in which an “I’m sorry” is appropriate? Only a few have been– to my son when I lost my temper at him over something unrelated to him. To my friend when I had to break important plans because I’d been careless in making them.

We’ve been together awhile, easel, so I think you’ve realized how I aspire to paint– eliminating as much of the visual noise as I can so as to highlight the colors, shapes and strokes I find most beautiful. The paintings that are my worst are the ones with too many haphazard strokes. The best have fewer, more intentional and meaningful ones. Which is precisely what I want my apologies to be– less haphazard and constant, more heartfelt, substantial, and sincere. Those are also the kind I’d like to receive.

You have been a literal weight these past few days. I’ve somehow injured my wrist (non-painting one) lugging you around. My pride is pretty bruised too. But I know pride is meant to be bruised. An inflated ego makes awful art. So I’ll stick with the mantra that convinced me to put myself out there at the start of this crazy adventure and continues to get me going on the Mondays that feel like one of Dante’s circles of hell– “I’m not the best painter, but I’m certainly not the worst…” and and then I put a canvas on you and just get going.

This is where I’d normally apologize for a gloomy Monday blog post. But I won’t because when I do have to say “I’m sorry” as I inevitably will, I want it to actually mean something, not be watered down by countless meaningless, unwarranted ones. What do you think? 

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Day 30. Work, Work, Re-Work.

Untitled, 16x20, oil on canvas. Buy Now

“A portrait is a painting with something wrong with the mouth.” — John Singer Sargent

I’ve been following talented wedding photographer Mark Eric for a while now so when I saw one of his posts of a young girl with a floral crown, I asked him if I could use it as inspiration for a painting. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about why that particular image struck me. I follow several photographers whose gorgeous work daily enhances my news feeds. I don’t have many conclusions. 

This painting started as a softer brush painting, and I left it like that for quite some time. I’ve messed withed it several times over this past month, but there was always something not quite right– the mouth, the nose, the hair– my frustrations were not limited to one particular feature. I eventually took my palette knife to it in an effort to stay true to my underlying goal in this painting-a-day challenge– explore, expand. I’ve been working on it with the palette knife on and off for a few days. 

When I first started making art, it was portraits that got me excited. In high school I did a terrible drawing of my best friend Emily that somewhat resembled her, and I thought, “Yes! I’ve got immeasurable talent!”. 

I’ve gravitated away from the portrait. I’ve become both more prolific, more successful, and far more humble since then. But portraits still grab my attention. I still have a strong desire to pursue them. And this month has been about doing the things I always put off. 

When it came time to post this image, I had no clue what to name it. My mind was (and still is) mush. I’ve asked you before, and I’m asking you again because you always come through. What would you name this painting? What’s the first word or words that come to mind? 

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Day 28. Art and Poetry

“Meanwhile the World goes on” 24x24, oil on canvasBuy Now

This one has been dancing around in my head for a while now. Most of my abstracts play around with horizontal lines I like to think of as water or land meeting sky. I like to show and then blur the distinction between the two. But I’ve been thinking about circles a lot lately and wondering how to use them more in some of my work.

A lot of things feel like they’ve come full circle lately. Nothing feels particularly or definitively linear.

The circle, for me, for now, suggests a state of just being. Not a clear start with an intentional end (as I am prone to think about the world), but all of it contained and yet somehow still not.

Below is one of my favorite poems. There are moments when it resonates with me strongly. It’s one of those moments.

 

Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver
 
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes, 
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, 
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting  
over and over announcing your place 
in the family of things.

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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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