I’ve had a hard time focusing on my work since the quarantines started. When I got married the last time, my fiance and I took a personality test. One question was whether or not you adjusted well to change. He said, yes you do. And I said no, I don’t. My life has been plagued by unexpected and mind blowing changes. I adjust at first, but there’s always a long term bit of depression unleashed that slowly takes over my sense of self.
What I thought might be a unifying fight against a pandemic became another ball of confusion, with conspiracy theories and further politcizing of our healthcare, and more division that I can’t understand.
Then there was the murder of Ahmad Abery, George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, and the full extent of police brutality became intolerable and protests broke out (which I support 100%)
But, yes, ball of confusion, contention and, hopefully, some growth.
And my painting ground to a halt. Or I lost faith in its significance.
After a week or so of depression, I decided to take some on line tutorials. One of my favorite artists, Gwenn Seemel, offers a 30 minute art guide session, so I signed up for one. She works in series and creates books, and seems to keep on with her creative work regardless of the way the world infringes upon her.
It was a great session. She admitted she too was having some issues creating when the world seemed so contentious. But she worked on her Baby Sees ABCs series of paintings that has led to a charming new art book by her that features animal portraits and baby names.
She asked me what I found easiest to work on now. It’s the 5×7″ faces I’ve been painting for almost a year. I was inspired to start them from a little 5×5″ painting of a face painted by Portland artist Trina Hesson, and by fauvism — using bright color and shapes.
The result has been little paintings almost totally intuitive. I don’t start out with any particular idea, and if I do, I often paint over that until the painting creates itself.
Gwenn suggested I make them into a book. I thought that would be a great idea. I’ve got quite a few of them, and I almost always have a small canvas with me when I paint a larger piece, to drop paint on, to clean paint off the brush. From there, it’s a matter of picking out shapes, or painting over it until it starts to tell me a story.
I’ve thought about it long enough now to come up with a name for the book, “It’s Written All Over Your Face.”
So I had been procrastinating on a commission and now I’m back to work. Here are my latest little faces, both painted in the last week.
I’ll show all the ones I’ve painted in a future post and keep you informed on how the book is going.
I’m grateful to Gwenn. I’m also reminded that a block isn’t really a block, it’s an adjustment period to changes both within and without. If you think you are blocked, then you begin to feel that you’re somehow failing. If you think you are resting and restocking your imagination, then you know you are, in fact, working by not working. Things have to happen in their own time.
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