Day 1. 31 in 1?

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“Slow Down” 16×20, oil on canvas

For someone who slings paint around just to enjoy the drips, blobs and imperfections, I am often hopelessly neurotic. I take our puppy out every ten minutes for fear she will have an accident. As for my human children, I am not the go-with-the-flow mother I long to be– I monitor, obsess, fret, and catastrophize.  I can’t end a run in the middle of a road or trail– I have to make my turn around at a stop sign or another suitable natural marker. I read the entire section of an article or book even if the information is irrelevant. I cannot skip ahead; I do not gloss over. I set timers for everything. 

It’s only day 1, and I swear I had this inner conversation: how long would it take me just to do all 31 paintings so that I can stop worrying about it and simply post one a day? 

But I can’t. I don’t have the time, energy, nor the wherewithal. And even if I did, I know the true beauty of the 31 is slowing down. Taking one little canvas at a time and using it as a meditation. 

That’s the intention I’ve set for this next month: slow down. Notice. Enjoy even, for crying out loud. Which is why I’m focusing on backgrounds more than foregrounds, shapes more than representation. I want to get in there and explore my subject and not just crank out something so I can check the box (I LOVE to check a box).   

My favorite painting of December was a 16×20 red-bellied woodpecker, so I decided to explore it again for day 1 (and probably some subsequent days). When I take on an idea I’ve approached before, it is easier for me to slow down. With some of it already worked out, I feel more open to explore the nuances. What I love about this bird is the bright red of the head and the black and white of the feathers. 

Which brings me to another 2021 intention: break the rules. I don’t ever use black paint. In fact, I didn’t think I owned any. But I found a tube (probably at least a decade old) and thought, why have I been so very against you all these years? I know why– I think darks created with a little ultramarine and burnt sienna are richer and less flat than an out-the-tube ivory black. But I used it anyway, you know, just to flirt with rule-breaking, added a little blue to it and WOW! I loved it’s depth. I can’t wait to use it again. Who am I??

Cheers to day 1, to a new year, to new and old hopes, to slowing down, and to breaking a rule or two along the way.

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Picture of Denise Hopkins

Denise Hopkins

January 1, 2021

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