I am totally celebrating the completion of this painting! I don’t know if it’s the hundred little details within the painting which are all mini paintings in themselves, the pandemic, going out to protest or helping my kids finish up school, but this painting was so hard to complete!
I think many people look at painters and think “I just don’t get it? Why are you so obsessed with throwing paint down?” I have family members that are bewildered. They wonder how I can complete a painting and within hours I am starting another one. Well, of course the first answer to this is passion. When a person is lucky enough to find something they feel passionate about, it’s not work. It’s pure joy which means most likely you will want to do it over and over again. But the second answer is more specific to my passion. I think my giddiness and excitement comes from the idea of a blank slate.
Staring at a blank canvas is exhilarating. Actually, it feels a little more like a panic, but in a good kind of way. There is nothing there. It’s very personal, because from nothing comes something. I liken it to forcing yourself to jump off the high-diving board. I take the same deep breathe, pick up the pencil, and I don’t allow myself to turn back. Now if I am being honest, sometimes it takes me a few days. Sometimes I walk around the desk. Sometimes I sharpen over 30 pencils. I organize my paints. Maybe pay some bills. Find weeding that is absolutely essential…
At first I felt really bad about this. Guilty actually. I felt like I was wasting valuable time and procrastinating. But slowly, I am finally getting it. It is part of the process. Because if I look at those uneventful days a little more closely, I am actually working. I am envisioning and dreaming up what will be in the foreground, background, left, right and center. I am thinking about the mood, the color scheme and slowly collecting reference materials. This process isn’t tangible. It’s just me being silent doing what most likely looks like day dreaming. But eventually it manifests. Like an exercise routine that I appreciate only after I can see it’s effects, I have to force myself to show up, paint and push on.
So the blank canvas is exhilarating, but the other high-point is the completion. I think that’s why I love photographing the progression of a painting. Because I get to sit there for a moment and take it in. There was nothing there and now there is something there; Creation in it’s purest form. From nothing comes something. It’s what I love about gardening to. I dig, cut and push around the earth and then from a baron space, comes life. It could also be said for parenting too. They all give me intense satisfaction from creating.
I can already see that working on this series is going to bring me to a different series of work. For within each of these paintings, I am falling in love with smaller simpler studies. I wouldn’t have ever found them unless they were part of something bigger, so I am incredibly thankful for all I am learning in every moment. Needless to say, this little bird is my favorite part of the painting.
Oh boy, I’ve been going on and on and I haven’t discussed all the things I hid throughout the painting!
If you recall, months ago I thought up hundreds of small objects and symbols I wanted to hide within my secret garden. I had tiny pieces of paper everywhere. I blindly divvied them up into 8 bundles and as I am sketching the painting, I task myself with figuring out where to put the objects. It’s definitely the child in me. I feel like the secrets are what keep someone coming back to look again. And then, there’s always the why. Why is that there? To me, it fuels the imagination.
I wanted to strangle myself when I pulled out one of the pieces of paper and I had written Excalibur’s Sword. Really Mary? Do I know anything about swords? and where am I putting said sword without ruining my painting? It’s kind of where it gets fun, because that in itself, is a puzzle I get to solve. So first thing to find is Excalibur’s Sword!
Here are some other things to find: A Swallowtail caterpillar, a House Wren, a compass, snake-eyed dice, a snail, a key , a toy truck, a lock, a White Ermine Moth, a Scottish Thistle, a red apple, a Rumi book, and the Eye of Horus.
I also mentioned I am adding a Latin phrase to each painting. The phrase for the rabbit painting is “Non ducor duco”. Which means I am not led, I lead. I love this quote. But for laughs, I juxtaposed it with a pointing hand plaque which suggests leading one in a certain direction. funny right? Geek humor.
For the first time, I am really feeling good about my work. I am feeling personally connected to the subject matter which gives me sense of purpose. I can also see a path forward which makes me feel at ease. I guess I could equate it to becoming comfortable in my own skin and owning my voice and vision. Long time coming….Can I get an AMEN!!!