Friday, November 9, 2012


When I was struggling with the portraits of my cousin's daughters, one thing that helped me break out of my funk was The Quick Study.

I've been doing these all along, to test out my colors and get a feel for the composition or facial expression. Mixing colors is time-consuming and kind of mind-boggling, but when I get the colors right I don't have to fight with the painting so much. Jason says he prefers the studies most of the time -- and I'm starting to see what he means. They're looser, fresher, uninhibited.

While I was working, I wrote on that page: make paintings the way you make sand castles. 

In other words: Quickly. Without attachment. Fill the bucket, turn it over, start again.

I like that these pages represent the struggle, too -- they show HOW MANY times I mixed colors, trying to get them right, trying to match what I'd mixed before. How dark, how light, how purple?

I toyed briefly (and jokingly) with the idea of just selling the palette pages. This is your child's face, in essence; abstracted, rendered in pigments. Maybe when I'm rich and famous. But I did sign this one, just in case:

(Only kidding, I was just practicing my signature. Yes, I have to practice everything)

The months I spent wrangling with those three paintings were kind of agonizing, because I just wanted to get it RIGHT, and I knew I could, so why was I tripping up so much, and why was it taking so long? 

Now I see how important the practice is.  Being impatient and perfectionistic, I'd rather not take the time to do that, bothersome practice. I'd rather be great right away. And every time. Sounds silly when I write it out, but that's the unspoken belief I carry whenever I approach my paints. And that's why I get scared and anxious and full of doubt.

It's this: I want to know before I do. But more often than not, I do, and then I know. 

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