I've been pretty isolated this past year because of health issues. With lots of rest, there has also been much introspection with the slowing down, as well healing and renewed strength.
Now that my world is opening up again - artist receptions, live meetings, dinners out, friends over, swim parties, real coffee chats - I've been totally gobsmacked!*
Being a working artist requires a ton of solitude!
Did you all know that? So how did I make it this far being so uninformed. I guess that's why, when my life was so busy, my average time to complete a painting was measured in years. Now I'm applying to galleries that want to see 100s of my paintings. That requires a whole lot of time. Yah - I haven't had any mysterious creatures in the middle of the night paint for me!
I've had to embrace a new lifestyle of solitude. I'm thankful to be living my dream. Even if it involves a lot of being alone with my imagination. Putting in the hours in my studio. Causing me to miss out on the activities I used to be so busy with and the people who have been such a blessing in my life. It's been quite the awakening. But I'm willing to make the changes as I become aware of them.
I've heard it said, "Growing things change." I like that perspective. It's not that we intend to make life more complicated. It's just that sometimes we need to consider the changes we need to make to get where we want to go. Change is healthy and, though it's not always easy, it's a sign of life.
I'd love to hear about some of the change you're embracing in your life. You can click on the comments below.
*gobsmacked - utterly astonished; astounded (British). Ok. So I love Downton Abbey.
We all want to avoid as many difficulties as we possibly can! As the world has seen this past month – there are hard things that just can’t be avoided.
When I began my journey of being “sheltered in,” I wasn’t in much of a mood to be painting. Uncertainty and fear had gone viral (yikes – bad pun???) I had just returned from an out of state trip that was fabulous but I had jet lag and was grumpy. Then the reality and seriousness started settling in and I knew I had a decision to make.
I knew I had to make a choice because COVID-19 isn’t the first crisis in my life. In fact, there’ve been many difficulties in my life, perhaps the biggest was being born with a brain tumor. As difficult as that tumor has made my life, I have benefited from it probably more than any other one thing I can think of.
I wouldn’t have the same compassion, inner strength, grit and enthusiasm for life if I hadn’t faced my own mortality and physical challenges at such a young age. I learned that I didn’t have a whole lot of control over life but I could decide to focus on things that are beautiful, grow in grace and faith, and recognize how important the people I love are to me.
The pandemic is nearly over. But I choose the good I can take away from this experience: like more faith, hope, love, appreciation for what I have and maybe an extra pack of TP in the closet.
So that’s the short story version of my “COVID Shelter In” painting. It started out to be another beautiful flower I love painting. It turned into an emotional project for me to process my fears and grumpiness.
Then I remembered how beautiful the other side of a difficulty can become.
Isn't it true that some of the best things in life are all around us and we see them so much that we end up taking them for granted. Especially when we're pressed for time or our thoughts are consumed with worry or stress.
It's so important to have times that you intentionally slow down and notice the good things that surround you. You'll live more inspired and your life will be richer if you do!
I've people ask me if I could teach them how to paint.
My first response was to search for materials on things I learned in art classes. But isn't that kind of stuff readily available online?
Then I realized that its the basic study of drawing that guides my work. It’s not that I draw perfectly but instead that drawing has helped me to see the world differently. Any venture into painting is all about seeing.
Seeing as an artist is about becoming aware of what you actually see with your eyes rather than what you expect something to look like.
From a scientific point of view, our eyes use a multitude of tricks and gimmicks in order to produce a vision that our brain can understand. The role of an artist is to deconstruct what we see in order to get to the mechanics and details of how we see something, then transfer that to whatever medium or style we like. Since we are all individuals, the product of our seeing will be as diverse as the number of artists in the world. Which means a whole lot!
That reminds me of a wise saying: "Don't try to be someone else – they're already taken."
This intentional way of seeing is something that can be learned. That's where drawing becomes such an important foundation for any artist. Challenging yourself to look deeply at a subject and attempt to reproduce it on to a 2-D surface, requires careful looking – without preconceptions or whether it makes sense to your brain or not. Well, maybe especially if it doesn't make sense to your brain! (Remember all those tricks and gimmicks!)
Can I suggest a great way to start drawing? Use your eyes to find shapes of color, shades of color, where light is touching and where shadows are falling. As you see these things, try your best to copy them. Not how you think it should look, but just what you see. One of the best tools to begin seeing this way is with a sketchbook that you use daily.
Drawing is always an important part of my painting process. Abstract artists usually have the ability to draw. Even a friend of mine that creates fine art sculptural baskets will draw sketches of his ideas. As you practice and practice this kind of focused observation and recording, you will begin to see like an artist. As awkward as it might seem at first, your brain will slowly start letting your eyes take over. With regular practice, you will begin to notice that you are seeing things differently. It's like discovering a whole new world!
I can't think of a better foundation and starting point for learning how to paint than drawing.
And the best news – you don't have to know how to draw a straight line! (Really? Where did that excuse come from anyways!?!?!)
If you have more thoughts on seeing like an artist, I would love to hear your comments below!
We just came home from a trip like that. My husband and I found a “new-to-us” redwood old growth forest far off the beaten path – Montgomery Woods State Reserve in Northern California. I thought we would never get there on that zig-zagging barely paved road. But it was well worth the drive! Some of the tallest trees in the whole world are in this reserve.
Standing in a grove with these ancient giants was breathtaking and exhilarating. It was only about a 2 mile hike – just enough to immerse in the forest without taking all day.
I love the atmosphere of old growth forests and this place was thick with it. Sound is muffled by a rich carpet of ferns and sweet smelling mulch. Everywhere you look are fallen trees, branches and stumps that are quite literally using their misfortune and decay to breed a new tree, as only redwoods can do. I felt a strong sense of ancient majesty as I looked up into the canopy overhead, trying to glimpse the tops of some of the smaller trees.
Like a small rural community, every creature seems to know each other’s business and seems quite excited to be the first to announce our presence. I find that it’s the perfect balance between serenity and a thriving environment teaming with wildlife and lush foliage.
Hi! I'm Becca Farmer and I'm a fine art painter.