“Triumph” 22×30, oil on canvas, $337 Buy Now
On September 9, on a whim, I posted to my FB page that I might attempt a completely abstract, non-representational painting as one of my paintings in the 30 in 30 challenge. It’s day 30, and I set out to do just that, mostly because I hadn’t done it yet (though I’d made a few attempts).
I worked on a large canvas that’s hosted a few other paintings in its lifetime– I remember it from my very first apartment in New Orleans– a Lakeview reno in a lifeless neighborhood where the coffee shop, drugstore, and grocery were about a year away from reopening.
My grandiose idea for this supposedly abstract piece was that it would be a sort of summation of my month’s work. There would be bright red and yellow spots– references to tomatoes and lemons, triangles to represent the wings of flying birds, etc., etc. I did sketches. I ignored them. I painted. What first emerged was a horizon line over and under which colors crept and sank.
But as I painted, I thought of my two favorite paintings this month (and no surprise here) they are both birds.
I looked at the first one on my shelf as I worked. It’s sold, but I’ve been waiting for the paint to dry in order to ship it. There is one very stubborn spot.
Towards the end, today’s painting called out for that bird watching me from the shelf.
At first, just a suggestion, then a little more than that. The result is a piece far more abstracted than any of my bird paintings, but an obvious bird nonetheless. I’m going to do a non-representational piece if it kills me, just not yet.
What I love about the image of the flying egret is the sense of triumph, and, really, isn’t that a key element to all of the stories I’ve painted thus far? Don’t all of them speak to human connection, the kind that raises us triumphantly from despair and heartache?
I don’t know that this painting is, in the end, a summation, but, like all my paintings, it’s a step closer to the next one.
I know that I will paint tomorrow and the next day. I probably won’t finish whole paintings and you may or may not see a post from me for the next few days. I’m looking forward to the freedom of letting something sit for a while, perhaps working on it for a couple days before releasing it into the world. But I’ll also miss the haunting compulsion to post, to paint, to finish– as though somehow if the clock struck midnight before I’d finished both painting and writing, I’d most certainly turn into a pumpkin.
I’ve got some ideas brewing for October– not a painting a day, but enough to keep me busy. I’ll let you know when I’ve got it all settled.
And I can’t leave this challenge without extending my sincere gratitude– thank you for your stories, the ones you sent and the ones in which you saw yourself. I’m not giving this up. There won’t be one every day, but if you send me a story about a pivotal moment (or really any moment) I’d love to feature it, anonymous or not. Maybe even on a monthly basis. Who knows. I’ve got a lot to think about.
If you haven’t signed up yet for my newsletter, you should. Today. I’m drawing a name tomorrow from my list of subscribers and you could win a 6×6 painting of your choice. You’ll also get a first look at some new paintings and, occasionally, some special rates. The monthly drawings are only until the end of the year.