And in the midst of a moving truck and cats and dogs running and playing, I continue experimenting with limitation and looseness, this time with wood panel (gesso'd in black), acrylic paints, one brush and the usual rubber wedge, paper towel and squeegee. Back to Ireland for this inspiration image, and for attempting to both capture and abstract something irreplaceable in the world - the rocky cliffs and untamed surf of the Wild Atlantic Way.
As you, dear reader, approach this new week and the end of January, know that YOU are irreplaceable. And also this: Art is not created by consensus. It is created by crazy people being the most like themselves. - Brian Rutenberg. Now go out there and be your wild, irreplaceable self! I'll be rooting for you. xo
I'd love to send this practice piece to anyone out there who might use it as inspiration to try their own extreme limitation painting...leave a comment below with the parameters of your proposed extreme limitation prompt, and Wonder Mike will choose a winner at random to receive this piece in the mail. Ready? Set? GO!
"We live and have experiences and leave people we love and get left by them. People we thought would be with us forever aren't and people we didn't know would come into our lives do. Our work here is to keep faith with that, to put it in a box and wait. To trust that someday we will know what it means, so that when the ordinary miraculous is revealed to us we will be there...grateful for the smallest things." CHERYL STRAYED, TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS
The ordinary miraculous seems to be popping up everywhere I look. Though I am tempted to hop up and down and squeal like a kid on the way to Disney World, I am trying very hard to pause and be grateful before doing so. Wonder Mike enjoys an enthusiastic celebration of anything, so there are two exuberant spirits working on the meaningful pause over here. :)
About the painting: artgraf drawing mixed with gesso and smudged for the base layer. Acrylic paint and paint mixed with gesso for subsequent layers, liberally spritzed and scraped until under layers poke through. Dry brushing for soft, smokey edges and finger painting for details.
It is tempting to begin the new painting year with a plan. With a goal. With a genre. With an organized approach. But that would be the way I started each new year in the past. Time for something new. A random, willy-nilly love-fest with the muse and her (his?) secretive and mischievous ways. To trust, as Byrne says, that I happily don't know what I'm doing.
And maybe we don't have to know what we're doing after all. So much of the good stuff in life is unexpected - happenstance and random shiny things that grab our attention and divert us from the known path. Because maybe the known path isn't really the right creative path for us in the first place. Let's diverge, shall we? Grab my hand and let's go!
I'm not at all sure how it happened, but over time I've begun inhabiting the person I aspire to be (Strayed) while also being the awkward (and sometimes uncertain) person I know that I am. And, like Grant, somewhere along the way I met myself and it all felt like (and indeed became) me.
Is it like this for you as well?
Perhaps I am just describing the daily mustering of a deeply philosophical introvert. And maybe Cary Grant was also of that ilk. And maybe this "pretending" is more like just a willingness to do what I think I cannot until I actually can. But it does seem to me that each of us can ultimately become what we aspire to be if we just try it on long enough. Which means trying things on (I can see my sister nodding knowingly, having advised me for years to try things on rather than ordering online in hopes things will fit) and resisting the desire to make assumptions. Or maybe do make assumptions - that you can do this thing, that you will be successful, that you are worth the risk.
I believe in YOU, dear reader! Let's go try things on....
About the painting - watercolor underpainting on BFK Rives Printmaking Paper (which feels delicate and smooth but takes water like a champ) with acrylic, gesso and walnut ink on top. Liberal spritzing and blotting of wet paint for texture. The serendipitous red mark on her shoulder is the watercolor paint bleeding through when water was applied. Horizontal lines courtesy of blue painter's tape applied temporarily during one of the layers. I'm not a fan of taped or stapled edges on paper, so the back of this piece received a liberal coating of black gesso to add heft and keep the paper from warping while wet.
It is incredibly challenging to find that shimmer in the modern world of multitasking, information overload and over stimulation (is your phone pinging as you read this?) And even more so with others, who are likely also distracted and perhaps overwrought. But if you can slow your roll to a very lazy turtle's pace and be very present - you just might find yourself. Add to that another sloth-paced and very present human and you just might discover a pulse of oh wow what have we here that reveals what matters. And forms a connection - something shimmery and worth holding reverently in your hands. And also worth capturing in a portrait.
About the painting: a watercolor underpainting with a gazillion layers of acrylic, acrylic mixed with gesso and acrylic mixed with matte medium. Liberal use of a sprayer bottle, squeegee and various scrapers. Add a dollop of humor (the only way I can paint any version of myself) and the willingness to turn it upside down, cover THE ENTIRE PIECE in pink florescent paint and then spritz and scrape most of it off. Gratitude to brian for allowing me to post it. :)
So instead I will show you the process of this particular playdate with the paint.
An old painting on board, flipped upside down. Boldly splat some blue paint across it and spread it around. Want some orange? Sure. Some magenta? Why not? Turn the board again? Ok. Draw an odd creature? Sure thing. Scrape through the paint with a chopstick - because it is fun to excavate texture and color. Let the wood grain be itself, because it is boldly persistent. Add softness with gesso-blended colors. Hello, Mudge!
Dear reader! You've whiled away another year with me on the blog...and that makes FIVE since its inception! I am so grateful for your time, your comments, your encouragement and for the lovely links to all the things that are inspiring YOUR playdates in the world. Shall we do it again next year? Yahooooooooooooo!
And so I find myself contemplating reframing.
Not the painting, no, it hangs free of frame. But the way I think of things. What if - WHAT IF - I could stop and reframe in the very moment of standing on the edge of that swirling pool of mist? What if I could tell myself this thing that is happening right now feels like the end of the world...and so it is also the beginning of something else, perhaps even better. I guess we would all like to do that, dear reader, shift perspectives in the very moment. And so we can. If we practice. If we intend. If we stay present and pause.
I hope you will remind me that I wrote this, the next time I stand on the edge? :)
Blog and blogger will be on a lovely break next week for the holidays, which, for us, will include a highly competitive no-holds-barred ugly sweater conception, creation and modeling competition which is sure to have our entire family questioning its normalcy and sanity. I wish you and yours a delightful malarkey-filled holiday!
Jen Jovan and her imaJENation