“Exhale” 6×6 oil on canvas

I have been keeping a sketchbook this month in hopes of making this 31 a little more organized, a little less frantic. If I can work out the ideas ahead of time, so goes my thinking, my actual studio time can be less fraught. Ease is my word for 2024 after all.

But I hadn’t quite found it yet. I hadn’t quite found what I wanted to paint or how I wanted to paint it which is sort of the point of a 31. You just keep going. You keep at it. You don’t have time to get inside your head too much. You press on. You explore. You see what happens.

And today’s painting was my first one that was an exhale. That kind of exhale where you didn’t even realize you were holding your breath. This one started with complete openness. I didn’t know if it would end with the facial features still showing or if I’d cover them all up, as I am prone to doing. The bird started awkward and clunky and then slowly emerged, gracefully even…

May we be guided by the spirit of gentle ease. May our breaths be deep and long. May we discover that what we need most is ever available to us.

** I’m doing something a little different this year. I’ll post each painting at (or close to) 10 am each day this month and they will be available for purchase on my site. However, the pieces will not be shipped out or available for pick up until February 26, after the run of the gallery show.


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Written by Denise Hopkins

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