Tuesday, January 25, 2011

01.25.2011 ~ santa fe winter, iii

— santa fe winer. iii
— 6 x 6 inches oil on panel — copyright dawn chandler 2011

I thought this one would be easy. Afterall, there's not much to it: A simple line of trees, a bit of duel-colored sky, and a swath of sun-striped snow. The composition is simple and there just aren't that many color variations—maybe six. And yet ARRRRGH! I struggled with this! The most frustrating part was trying to get the right color for the sun-highlighted evergreen trees. That's a challenge that has vexed me in other paintings. To my eye, the color of late day sun-highlighted evergreen trees is usually a rusty-orange brown color. Trying to achieve the correct hue and shade and apply it without making the trees look dead can be a real a struggle. After a few stops and starts I think I finally pulled it off here, but just barely. Really, the color of the tree highlights could be a shade lighter, but I'm going to leave it and quit while I'm barely ahead.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

01.22.2011 ~ santa fe winter, ii

— santa fe winter, ii
6 x 6 inches oil on panelcopyright dawn chandler 2011

The second of two oil paintings I did that night last week, mentioned in Thursday's post. The creative sense just flowed that evening. I'm delighted with the sense of color and light in this piece.
The scene here: Near the clearing on the lower west corner of the property, Christmas Day.

After a long day on the computer yesterday tending to art office work, I'm excited to have set aside this morning to paint.
...may The Muse be magnanimous.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

01.20.2011 — santa fe winter, i

— santa fe winter, i
6 x 6 inches oil on panelcopyright dawn chandler 2011

Woke up to snow this morning. Barely a dusting, but even this meager amount is welcome. The end of January is approaching, and until this morning, we've had no snow this month. I'm not much of a fan of winter, yet even I am hoping the snows will return, at least for a little while. For now, drifts of two big storms in December still lie in the cold shadows of trees and arroyos. At least I was able to get some photographs of the earlier snow, while it lasted.

Early last week, a building sense of frustration and exasperation with my busy schedule finally caused me to exclaim "SCREW IT!!" and drop everything and just paint. Until that moment, I had barely been able to turn to my palette in weeks. That night, finally, that pressure cooker of frustration released itself in the flow and satisfaction of turpentine and oil paint...Ahh, bliss!
For inspiration,
I turned to those photos of winter. Above, the first of two paintings I did that pressure-cooker night. The scene: just up my road on a winter's late afternoon, looking east as the setting sunlight highlights a neighbor's pinon and cedar wood.

To my surprise, my paintings that evening turned out quite well. The looseness and confidence of the brushwork, the accuracy of color and light...I'm delighted with how well and quickly these all came together. I guess I'm always expecting that after a time away from painting, I'll be rusty and not very good at it. And yet, often quite the opposite proves true: that as frustrating as a hiatus from painting can be, it's often useful. For, though the creative skills and vision are not apparently actively engaged, they continue to incubate. A bit like "sleep-thinking" — when you go to bed at night mulling over a question, and in the morning wake to find the answer. Or like a runner preparing for a race, taking off a few days before the event to rest and restore, and then run a great race. I guess in order to perform especially well, the creative muscles and synapses benefit from rest, too. Or at least they seem to have this time around, anyway....

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

01.12.11 ~ art & fear in a new year

I've always loved the transition of the old year into the new. Maybe it's because my birthday is right there between Christmas and New Year's, therefore adding a very personal sense of a "new chapter" to my life. But I've always appreciated the changing of the year as a time for resolution, affirmation and renewal, and this year I welcome the change even more than usual.

Last year was tough. Despite the joy of moving to an exciting new town and a beautiful new home — a move I very definitely wanted to make and don't regret for a moment — the transition was more challenging than I had anticipated. Just getting used to the newness of everything, getting into the groove of a rhythm, and developing a new lyric for my life...It's been a long time since I've had to do any of that, and it was harder than I thought it'd be. On top of that, the economy took a staggering hit on the art world and some of the professional artistic ventures I undertook did not pan out as I'd hoped they would. Lots and lots of sleepless nights in 2010, resulting in some big changes for me — like getting a part time job to supplement my living.
All in all, finding that sweet Balance in life of art career, 'real job', fitness, relationships and nurturing spirit has surely been the biggest challenge of all for me, and continues to taunt and tease me into this new year.

And yet, I'm learning....The secret to finding that Balance, I'm beginning to grasp, is in letting go of all of the detritus.
Getting down to the essentials.
And then taking what's left and making the most of it.
Showing up and doing the work that needs to be done.
And quit whining.
In the realm of Art, there's a terrific little book out there that speaks to some of this. It's called Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, by David Bayles and Ted Orland. I've read it many times and am appreciating reading it again now, as I transition into this new year and continue to seek that elusive Balance. I recommend Art & Fear to anyone seriously involved in creative pursuits.

Now get to work.