Has it really been nearly a year since I posted here? It looks that way.
I reached a point where I felt like my art had stagnated. I wasn’t happy with some of my work, but I couldn’t figure out why.
Then, I was busy getting ready for my older daughter’s wedding. It was the best wedding I’ve ever been to, and I’m so very pleased with what she has accomplished with her life, so far.
In addition, my younger daughter — who lived a few blocks from us — was reorganizing her life. Since she was disabled and unable to drive, a lot of my focus was on her. It was time well spent.
This past spring, I flew with her to a state she’d lived in when she was growing up. She’d preferred the dry climate and the culture there, and she decided to move back. After staying with someone who’d been a neighbor when she was growing up, my daughter found a place of her own, and quickly became part of a community with the support systems she needs. I am so proud of her!
After that, it was summer and… well, I’m not sure where the time went. I wrote a couple of (non-art) books that are selling well, and generally began reorganizing my own life.
Recently, I’ve kept looking at my art. I bought a few art books and magazines.
In books, I learned about simplifying my palette, reading a book about light in oil landscapes, by Peter Wileman. I learned the importance of creating an actual landscape, not just a literal view from my window. Frankly, those paintings look confined and small.
From Wileman and from Kevin D. Macpherson, I learned to let the light shine by contrasting it with carefully chosen greys. And, also from MacPherson, I finally saw that I could use my beautiful sky photos and plein air sketches to compose my own works… pieces that weren’t so photographic.
I also downloaded some useful videos.
The first really useful video was by M. Katherine Hurley. From her, I learned to soften the edges in some of my paintings, especially the skies. I bought some big, soft brushes and they’ve helped tremendously. However, I look at some of my old sunrise and sunset sketches, and I can see how much better they’d have been with soft edges instead of glops of paint.
Many artists are their own worst critics, and I’m certainly among them. I was delighted with my work, a couple of years ago, but when I didn’t continue to grow — partly because I didn’t keep painting, regularly — I became dissatisfied and then critical of my own work. That’s not a good place to pause.
Meanwhile, from Brian Ryder, I learned to be less literal with my work, leaning towards abstraction.
At this point, the various pieces are clicking into place.
I tried painting over part of a sunset sketch, intending to fix what was wrong with it. Bad idea. The energy wasn’t there. I was trying to change the past, and it didn’t work.
Okay… I need to amend that: It hasn’t worked yet.
I tried a new sunset sketch a couple of nights ago, and… well, it looked almost identical to one I’d done about three years ago. That’s beyond frustrating. I need to see progress.
Last night, after studying and analyzing others’ works I admire most, I tried again. This time, it was a beauty.