Branching Out

tuscany - 1triptych drawing - 1


This tryptich is the result of one thing leading to another.  Sometimes, well, really all of the time, when we’re in the throes of creating, something happens to make us switch gears.  After an initial action, there’s a reaction.  This leads us to question our original plan.  How this played out with this painting is that I don’t like waiting.  Because I decided to try a new material I’d never used on canvas, an  absorbent ground which would afford me the chance to paint with watercolor on the canvas, it took a much longer time to dry on the canvas than it would have on watercolor paper. That entailed having to wait to paint and the only reason I love both watercolor and acrylic is that I don’t have to wait for paint to dry like I used to with oils.

In order to solve the problem, I decided to paint several paintings at a time.  Feeling even more I ambitious, I got the bright idea of doing my first triptych.  I gathered sketches from my notebooks I’d drawn and decided which sketches of female nudes to transfer onto the canvases. As I drew the figures, images of fall leaves began to take form in my mind.  I’ve always loved the splash of color from leaves in fall.

The image at the top of this post is a picture I took of the 3 canvases before I began painting them. I’d already drawn some of the leaves as a guide. The picture below is the first painting of the 3 images above.

triptych drawing 1 - 1

I started with this sketch first. It took awhile to get into the flow of painting leaves, so I went back and forth between each of the painting’s leaves to achieve some semblance of unity with all three paintings. Doing more than one painting at a time had an added bonus I couldn’t have known if I hadn’t experienced it. It took the edge off of the anxiety that arises while focusing on only one. For whatever reason, my interfering need for perfection (I’ll never reach that. No one ever does.), my fear I’ll mess it up (so what? There’s always another chance), or any other thought that usually takes me away from Loving what I’m doing, never came up. I’ll tell you about a big mess I made on one of the other paintings and how I reacted to that so differently than I could’ve in the past.

For now, I’m going to leave you with a quote that sums up what I want to achieve with my art.

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”


On Risking

sp out the window - 1

I had finished painting the view from the window when I confronted the cold, harsh truth that I didn’t know where to go next.  I had no ideas or inspiration to guide me (something I like to rely on).  Gazing at the painting for awhile, it became obvious to me that the woman should be in shadow, but not so much so that the shadows would be darker than any dark in the scene outside. I began to paint the figure, and it wasn’t until I finished that I realized I’d done something extraordinarily different from anything I’d ever done before.

I liked what I’d done but how would other people react to it?  (You know, that pesky voice that insists you’re only as good as other people view you to be).  I hadn’t painted the figure as conventionally as I’d done in the past.  In fact, the figure was uniquely different from anything I’d ever done or seen before, so much so that the fear of being judged as inept or (God forgive) a failure overcame me. I wasn’t even sure I wasn’t but just a few days later I serendipitously read this:

“Risk is only something which I’m not prepared to take for what I do not value.”

Amir Zoghi

So on to the big question.  What do I value?  What I value most is authenticity and to be authentic, I believe, means that I share both my mind’s truth, what I’m seeing with my eyes, and my creative or spiritual truth. What I believe my spiritual truth to be is sharing what I’m feeling in response to what I’m seeing.  In the case of my art this means I want to free myself to be both who I am mentally and creatively.  The risk I take is being able to express both without censure.  When this works, I’m always feeling lighter, surer about what has come into being. I’m awestruck with the result.

So, the other day, armed with the knowledge that whether or not anyone else liked my painting, rather than risking compromise, I gave myself permission to risk for what I value.  I freed myself to follow my intuition and, when I showed the painting to a group of my friends, still wondering if I’d let myself believe in something that could never be, I was happily surprised when I received enthusiastic approval for what I’d done.

I’m more sure than ever that we always know our truth.  If we’re not knowing, it’s only because we’re doubting what really is.


Going Inward

floating flowers - 1


This painting was inspired by both a drawing from one of my many sketches of figures I’ve done and from an orchid plant that I got as a gift.  It was painted on a canvas panel in watercolor. I transferred the drawing of the nude, sat with it while it stood on my easel for a few days, and waited for her to “speak to me”.  Maybe what I really wanted was an idea, a map, anything that break through my inability to know what to do next.

I know that when I use my intuition, just allow myself to play, one inspiring thought leads to another, but, sometimes, it’s hard to get that first stroke of paint down.

This quote summarizes what I always want to achieve in a painting.

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inner significance.


But it was this quote that helped me to finally pick up the brush and begin to paint.

“There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.”

Vincent Van Gogh

Allowing Love to guide this painting truly opened myself to receiving the ideas and inspiration that seemed to come easily and effortlessly. I also got to experience, once again, the feeling of being “One” with the painting, something that has eluded me for awhile. I realize now that, when I’m feeling any other emotion other than Love while I paint, I distance myself from what I’m working on, which causes the painting to miss out on what could be. Instead of painting what I see, with Love pointing the way, my creativity has the freedom to see beyond the limits of what the eye can focus on. That opens the door to imagination, which is the child in each of us coming out to play.

I so thoroughly enjoyed painting this. It was a pivotal painting for me in that I finally felt “at home” with what I was doing. I’ve finally given myself permission to be Who I Am, instead of trying to “do” something to impress others. I’m doing what I love doing, and, in return, what I’m doing is returning the love.

I’ve already started my next painting. It’s another based on another sketch of a woman and it’s based on a different premise from this one. But, of course, that would be the case, since this figure I’m doing now is sharing who she is and she’s not the same as this woman. She’s unique, just like all of us are.