Painting #38 is the latest piece. Part of it still seems really flat. It’s from a photograph in a Conde Nast Traveler magazine. Sometimes when painting just isn’t going good, I think I should quit but in reality I should probably paint more. Bob gave me some good advice on inspiration and things to try, and a commenter on Reddit gouache had some great feedback for me.
This morning Bob and I went to get my Johnson & Johnson vaccine when it was announced that the CDC and FDA were requesting a pause on it because of blood clots. I’m going to try to get the Pfizer instead through a walk-in clinic over the next three days.
We may be getting snow on Thursday, but I don’t expect it to stick. The perennials are coming up, and I need to weed the garden. Kitten season has started at work, and of course we are short-staffed.
The average temperature for this upcoming week should be around 47/25 so it looks like we’ll be having nicer weather than what we deserve (or should have). The maple in our backyard popped over the weekend. I’d expect with these upcoming temperatures, we’ll be seeing more signs of spring shortly. I need to get out on the Bark Park trails and see how the pussy willows are coming along. Friday is the first day of spring, and we’re mid-month now. I really need to get my bike out. I’ve done so little exercise this winter I totally expect to not be able to even get in ten miles.
This little image didn’t come out very well. It’s actually not a bad impression of the reference image, but it’s still not great. Still, in the interest of posting successes and failures, here’s painting #35, in gouache on watercolor paper. I have so many reference photos, but this weekend I just couldn’t get enthused about painting any of them. Maybe it had more to do with motivation and mood than potential images. I did manage to play the recorder each day, so at least I have that going for me.
This week is short, but full of dreadful meetings. Planning on doing continued creek cleanup at Mom’s house this Friday, and hopefully this time I won’t fall in the water. Last time I was in the water, but got stuck in the mud and fell over backwards. Then, as I laid there on my back, my hip waders filled with water. I wound up being wet and muddy from toe to neck. I’ll bring an extra pair of pants on Friday just in case.
Ok, I’m fairly pleased with this one, painting #34. I think the tree on the right could use a little more work, but overall, not bad. The reference image was from a Smithsonian magazine, and it’s done in gouache on watercolor paper.
It’s warmer today and tomorrow, but I don’t want to enjoy it because the next few weeks will be back to cold. Close to average for this time of March, but still. I wouldn’t say I’m looking forward to spring, as I don’t like people being outdoors making noise. I do however prefer to not be cold. My lungs seem to enjoy warm, moist air. The opposite of Michigan six months out of the year. I should have gotten my bike out for today. I’m not much motivated to do anything except play the recorder. I am motivated to do that. I’ve been also playing a bit of Beat Saber on the Oculus Quest 2. And watching British mysteries in the evenings while I crochet blankets for the cat room at the shelter.
You may be asking yourself…what? The recorder? If you are a certain age and went to school in Michigan, there’s a good chance you were forced to play the recorder in elementary school. And 30 kids playing the recorder at one time is just as horrific as it sounds. Who knows why we did it. I barely remember. But I recently came upon a professional recorder player on youtube and it really is a lovely sounding instrument. As recorders are hella cheap (for the kind you can learn on, not professional quality of course), I picked one up and decided to learn to play it. And it’s really quite nice. I don’t recall picking up another instrument so quickly. Also, whereas with my other instruments I’ll get tired of playing after awhile…aching neck, sore mouth, etc. there is none of that with the recorder. If only my experience in elementary school had been better, maybe I too would be a professional recorder player now. Here’s a nice little bit of recorder playing for reference:
Painting #31 is an acrylic study of a photo I took some time back. It could use a little more work, but I will likely leave it as is. I’m doing an online class on painting nocturnes now, which is interesting, but I’m having some trouble finding reference photos I like. Am I improving? Who knows. But the time spent painting is time not spent fretting about stressful or unhappy things. It’s impossible to paint and mentally deal with anything else other than paint, brush, and paper. I’ll take it.
The weather is endless gray days and snow. We’ll have a few minutes of sun here and there, and thankfully it’s not been bitterly cold, but I’m feeling the strain just the same. It’s harder to get out of bed and damn near impossible to get off the couch. I did read Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, which is the first book I’ve been able to finish in some time. Like a year. I don’t know if it’s just my mood or if my new glasses are helping my eyestrain some. I know it’s only 61 days until the official start of spring and we’ll probably have a February thaw and the end of winter will happen. I’m trying to plan on bright things, like a surprise Twin Peaks Day package I’m sending out and Valentine’s gifts for the staff members. Still, it’s a struggle. It’s hard to write letters when I don’t have much to say. It’s hard to take photos when everything is the same color of gray all the time.
Painting #30, and the final painting of the Class101 online course. It’s a gouache study of the Windsor Riverwalk, though it was not painted from a reference but instead my imagination. It might have turned out better if I had painted what I actually saw in my mind’s eye and remembered instead of a stylized view of it. Maybe it would have more feeling and would be less flat? Though there are still things not right with this painting, I have learned some during the process. The Class101 instructor gave virtually no feedback; most of the videos were not really instructions, but videos of her painting. Not a lot of tips or helpful information, aside from setting up a color chart with all of your paint colors so you can see in advance what colors will work best for your image. Honestly, I am learning more by posting on the Facebook and Reddit painting groups I below to and asking for advice on my paintings. I’ve started up another class, this one on nocturnes, and the instructor is providing such good advice I’m actually taking notes.
It’s been a rather mild winter so far, most days in the low 30s for highs. We’ve had a few days now with partial sunshine, which helps the old mood for sure. And now we’re half way through January, with only 64 days until the spring equinox. The world may well be falling apart – Trump was impeached for the second time yesterday and COVID numbers are high, high, high – but the inevitable march towards spring continues. I’ve repotted my office plants, which I’m sure was a huge shock to them, and I’ve ordered seeds for the vegetable garden as they are predicting significant delays again with gardening supplies. Who knows what spring or summer will look like? People over 65 in Calhoun County can sign up to get the vaccine, but there’s a very long wait list.
It’s the end of the world as we know it, and actually I don’t feel fine. What a week it has been. Everything seems unreal, and I wonder if things will ever go back to at least where people acted normal out in public. Once we’ve seen this anarchy, it may always be just under the surface if not bubbling over. I can make an analogy to the shelter world. Once a dog chooses to bite and gets the reaction it is looking for, that tool will always be available. It’s why you can’t adopt out dogs with a bite history. Did you ever expect to see insurgents storm the Capitol building? Maybe yes, if you watched them in Lansing, Michigan. And now that they know it works and they can do it whenever they want to interrupt democracy? It’s anarchy.
Between the intolerable state of US affairs and the UK COVID variant that is quickly spreading in the United States, the world feels a bit unstable. The shelter will be closed through March but what will actually take place? Will people actually take the vaccine? Will it be available, and will it be safe long-term? Are we merely in the bubble between a constant stream of pandemics now, brought on by overpopulation and climate change? What happens when everyone is evicted and there are no jobs?
In the meanwhile, I paint. I am still finishing the Class 101 online class and will be starting a nocturne painting class after that. The Class 101 was good as it got me painting things I normally wouldn’t paint and using some creativity instead of just trying to reproduce an image. But in other ways, it’s not really my style of painting either. I always do like having assignments or prompts to work on accomplishing. It gives me purpose. The above image is painting #29, twinkle lights on a balcony in gouache. And here is my helper:
I am thankful for the life we have built at home: me, Bob and Maxy. I’m thankful for my extended family. I’m thankful that I can mentally get away from the world and paint, that I have a job that for the most part I enjoy. That I am surrounded by cats. That I have friends, and Netflix. That the days are growing longer and there are 70 days until the official start of spring.
There’s no making waves in these parts these days. Everything is cold and gray. The temperatures have hovered around the freeze/thaw cycle since before New Year’s, and we haven’t seen the sun in longer than that. It’s sort of interesting, as the temperatures warm up just enough to start melting the snow which creates fog and then the fog freezes in the air and on all of the surfaces. We had an ice storm over the New Year weekend (and survived it without a working furnace!). It looks like the weather will be more of the same for the ten day forecast, and continued clouds. It is hard to tell between 6am and 11am, 4pm and 8pm. All the same gray. It’s hard to get motivated to get out of bed or to do much of anything.
I’m continuing on with the Class 101 painting class. This section was about making waves. I’ve decided that I don’t really enjoy painting waves. It’s hard to find a good reference photo that worked with the assignment. The painting above (#27, for those who are counting) is in acrylic and had several attempts at it. You were supposed to start with a lighter color and go in for the darker tones. These two paintings were supposed to feature light on top of the waves.
This one is in gouache, and was started with darker and then lighter added in. The shapes are maybe a bit better but it’s still weird. I look forward to moving on to the next lesson and seeing what the assignment is. And I just look forward to painting. Even when it doesn’t turn out how I’d like, I love the process and learn from it. When I’m not painting, I’m often thinking about painting.
I did clean up my office plants a little. Added more soil, fed them. They are looking better. My office itself is a little cleaner, too. I am ready for the January thaw already. 72 days until spring.
I started an online class recently with Class 101 for painting. Over the past year, I’ve taken a number of online painting classes. There’s always something new to learn and new techniques to try. Through the class assignments, I’ve recently completed acrylic painting #23 and #24.
The first painting assignment, in acrylic, was to work on clouds. I still don’t think I have them quite right. I haven’t done an acrylic piece in awhile though, so it was fun to get back to that medium. And I think the trees turned out pretty good.
For whatever reason, I really like this acrylic painting, #24. I keep going back and looking at it. The goal of the assignment was to get the glowy bit around the flame. Next assignment is to try a similar glowy bit with a Christmas tree, and I hope to work on that this weekend. I am always looking forward to painting, and find such peace while I do it. I’ve had lots of new year’s resolutions over the years to try new things or learn new skills. This one I can say has absolutely been a success.
After snow last weekend (experienced on a hike at Fort Custer with Sue and her dog Disco), this week has turned out a little warmer. Warm enough to bike in fact. Yesterday, I turned 1,000 miles for the summer. I should be able to get in a day or two over the weekend as well. COVID-19 cases are out of control here in Calhoun County. Between that and still not knowing the full results of the election, it’s been an odd week. Anything I can do to get out of my mind a little is helping.
I’ve dedicated more time recently to painting. I find the time I spend painting reduces my blood pressure and ignites my mind at the same time. It’s something I can completely get lost in, like I did with playing music years ago. It seems impossible to think sour thoughts when you’re focused on colors and images. This past week I did gouache swatches with white of all my colors, which I am hoping will be helpful in selecting appropriate colors. It also helped me figure out that I am missing a few key colors, an excuse to make another order at Blick. Here’s a tip for ordering: spring for the next level up in shipping. It shortens the time significantly, sometimes up to a week, and it’s not much more money. Blick is amazing and has all kinds of arts and craft supplies.
Right now I’m taking a fun little online class on painting a daily journal. The focus is kind of coming up with faster painted sketches as a means of overall improving your painting. The above barn was from a photo I took on an earlier walk this summer. I’ve gotten these small gouache pieces down to two or three days to complete which is a huge difference compared to my first acrylic pieces.
The image of the bird, above, is from a photo I took a few years back in the Florida Everglades. I’ve repainted it a few times and the beastie still looks rather like a duck. It’s also a bit too big. But I’m happy with the rest of it.
I’ve taken some great photos of autumn leaves, and am looking forward to painting some of the season over the next few weeks. I’d like to grow in my imagination in my painting. I’m not a very realistic painter, so the idea that I have to copy an image is unnecessary.
I added them up, and I suppose this is painting #19. When I started the year, I hoped for one piece a month. I’ve done more than that, but I didn’t paint at all in August. I so enjoyed getting back into it this month, I really want to make more time in the rest of the year. I’m not sure that I’m getting better, but again I love how I feel when I am painting. Anyhow, this image is of the old school house that’s on the corner of Beckley and Helmer in Battle Creek.