Winter Delight

Another week, another student work painting from Painting Basics by Jerry Yarnell. I was worried about the sky again since my last couple haven’t been that successful. However, this one seemed to work out well. I was actually happy with it, though I kept reminding myself of Jerry’s saying of, “Don’t piddle, play, or putter.” You have to know when to quit fiddling.

I did have a problem early on that I lost all of my basic sketch while painting the sky. I kind of had an idea where I was going to put the cabin, but as I worked the painting I started wishing I’d redone the sketch (or at least part of it) before putting in the background mountains and trees. Because I didn’t, I got a little overly ambitious with my background trees too.  When I got to doing the nearby pine trees, I had to sketch the cabin back in and make a couple changes.

At this point, I have to take a break. I’m too tired to paint. Good thing it’s dinnertime. And while I’m eating and occasionally looking over at the painting I’m reminding myself that I do need to step back from the painting every now and then to see what’s really going on with it. Isn’t that what I’m always telling my own students? Yes — come on, Dawn, practice what you preach!

Here’s a picture of it halfway through:

Winter Delight - halfway

Just between us, I’m really hating this painting at this point. I tell myself that I usually feel this was upon getting paintings blocked in, but this feels different. I’m just not happy with how it’s coming together. But I know the problem. I’m not being bold enough. I wonder what will make me have more courage with my painting — what will it take? Really! Boldness is an element I feel I’ve lost. I started art because I wanted something to challenge me. I always jump into the challenge. Yet lately I’ve let fear control me. “I’m not good enough,” I keep telling myself. Then I turn around and look at the drawing of Happy Shoe, Sad Shoe hanging on the wall with the 1st place ribbon hanging from it. Or I look at the 1st place ribbon on the wall that use to go to another painting that has since been sold. When I penciled my shoe picture, was I ever worried about how it turned out? Did I ever stop to think that I couldn’t do it? No to both question. I just did it. I allowed it. When did I stop allowing myself to be an artist to try to be an artist. Just today I commented on a friend’s blog about the difference between the two. And in trying to be an artist, I’ve squared myself to fit into a box of what I think an artist should be and I’m trying to fit in a mold which doesn’t allow me to be bold. It’s like those skies I’ve been fighting with: I want them to be perfect and smooth with no imperfections, but cloudy skies are messy and the only way to make them is to not blend them perfectly together. I have to be bold enough to trust my strokes.

So, I keep painting. Here’s the end picture:

Winter Delight - final

Now I know it’s not the best because my youngest son looks at it and says, “It’s just not as ‘wah!’ as the last one you did.” Both boys took a look at last week’s painting and were impressed — this one, not so much. As I reflect on it, I see that my fence is leaning into the turn — cars should do that, but not fences. My icy puddles in the road are not bold enough. Even the cabin could be better. My sky, I am happy with my sky. It looks good.

I guess the real question here is: do I feel like I’m learning anything? Well, honestly with the actual work of painting, no I don’t feel like I’m learning. I actually feel like I’m getting worse. I’m so concerned with following the recipe that I’m not feeling free enough to go outside the box and trust my instincts. However, I am learning a lot about myself as an artist. Eyvind Earle said in a video reflecting on his life that when he painted he often composed essays about art. I get that, especially as doing each one of these paintings makes me see deeper into my own artistic process.

Next week we go from winter (boo!) to my favorite time of year with Autumn Memories.


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