This past week was dedicated to painting, which made me overjoyed. The first day I painted a flower very tightly, similar to how I had been painting flowers for my last show. I liked to capture them exactly as they were, delicate and sweet. The process started off very slow. I wanted to push myself and paint more of a still life than just doing a study. As it usually goes for me, the first painting of the day did not turn out the way I wanted it to. I wasn’t discouraged though, since I knew it usually took me one painting to get warmed up before I’m able to get down to business. And as expected, the second painting I did that day turned out the way I wanted it to, although it took an additional few hours for me to build up the paint to get to that point. This painting ended up taking the whole day.
I’m not sure whether it’s a barrier a lot of artists face, or whether it’s just me, but I find that getting started painting is the hardest part. It’s the part that holds the most weight for me, as I’m usually pushing myself to paint after being in a little artistic rut. It seems like the most pressure is on the first few paintings, as that usually dictates how the rest of the painting session or period goes. So after pushing myself to face this challenge, I was able to create a result I was happy with. Seeing as it did take longer than expected, I had to give myself a little bit of grace and remind myself that I’m just warming up.
But one challenge often leads to another, and after producing such a delicate and tight painting my dad wanted to push me in a different direction. So, the next day he challenged me to paint looser. I basically went from one end of the painting spectrum to the other. I started out by practicing on some paper that I didn’t worry about ruining. I painted a little card with irises on it and moved on to making a larger piece. Pretty soon I got into a groove, painting a small card in between each layer I did on a big painting, so I could wait for it to dry. This method was very freeing for me. I was able to loosen up my hand and only use larger brushes to create pieces with more expression.
My dad told me after I was done painting for the day that he wasn’t sure whether I had it in me to paint so loosely. I think it’s good to be challenged to try different things in areas we are already good at. I think it’s important to not just stick with what we are comfortable with, but to push the boundaries of our comfort zones further and further.
I think it’s also important to keep in mind that once artists reach a certain point in their career they typically have an established artistic touch. I’ve been stressing out over figuring out what mine would be and how I would share my voice for a while. But I realized that I am at a point in my art journey in which it’s actually better for me to try a lot of different styles. It’s important for me to continue to grow right now and let my style and voice find me over time. We shouldn’t tie ourselves down in art. We should let the art move through us, capturing a moment in time, a day, a feeling, that speaks to us instead of getting bogged down with should’s or shouldn’ts.
I’d love it if you would stop by the Camano Island Studio Tour to see my new art and visit with our family of artists. It starts on Friday, June 25th and runs through Sunday, June 27th from 10-5pm.