Blessed Mother painting by Denise Hopkins

“If You Only Knew” 10×10, oil on canvas $125 Buy Now

I’m on another trip and have met yet another woman who lost her son. I painted this before I left, but I keep meeting women who make it more and more poignant.

I wanted to try a madonna image that was cropped– a square this time instead of a long, full-body rectangle. I also have noticed lately that I need to work more on values and contrast. When I first started painting, my values were too harsh– everything dark became my version of black (phthalo blue and venetian red or burnt sienna) and everything light became white. I’ve overcorrected by using too many medium range values with not enough contrast. I thought I’d try to include more dark in this one, but I honestly prefer the other, lighter, longer ones.

Sometimes I find myself thinking that doing a painting a day means linear progress: Every painting is automatically better than the one before it. But the reality seems to be that although there is certainly forward progress, there is also a freedom to experiment that sometimes results in a two-steps back, three-steps forward type of dance. There are paintings I did in college that I prefer to paintings I did last week. But I infinitely prefer the artist I am now to the one I was when I first began. Even though what I produce isn’t always infinitely better, I know far more. I’ve put in more miles on the canvas. My successes are more deliberate and less lucky.


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