in the studio today, lessons

i've hardly painted since december 19.  and suddenly i'm back in that place where the brush feels clumsy in my hand, where the colors aren't quite right, where the nasty voices in my head are calling on me to doubt, doubt, doubt.  doubt doubt.

however, by the grace of god or of the universe, or by finally having reached 40, or by it being 2014, or because i spent the better part of october, november and december painting happily and i remember what it's like to paint happily, i am pushing forward.  moving through.  trying to silence those voices and remember what it feels like to paint happily.  i am.

i am remembering the conversation i had with one of my children's teachers this week about grit.

i am playing this song on repeat.

i am putting paint on top of paint on top of paint.  and then i am scraping away and putting on more paint and scraping again.  and again.  and again.

i am choosing to not be precious about it - the very best advice from my first beloved painting teacher.

i am reminding myself to release expectations.

i am opening the window to let in some fresh (cold) air.

i am pushing forward. 

i am painting.


these days

(from the kitchen window this afternoon, around 4.)

gratitude.  i appreciate the pause.  these days between days.  this time when everything that was has been wrapped up as well or as much as it will ever be, and all that is still to come hasn't yet begun.  so full of potential, this time outside of time.



i'm going to talk about painting and my process for a bit, even though i'm quite sure there's nobody left reading here (except erin, god bless you.  hi e!).

i've been working on a very large painting.  very large by my standards; lately i most love to paint at 30 x 44 - or 44 x 30, depending on the day - sometimes a little bigger or smaller, but that's the size of my favorite sheet of paper and a size that seems to suit me right now.  this painting is twice that size, which is glorious.  and challenging.

i've set aside tuesdays and thursdays as my dedicated painting days, and part of wednesdays when i can.  this has been my schedule since january and i like it, except that it's thursday at noon and i'm typing rather than painting.  tuesday was a terrific painting day - i started another gigantic dyptich and i was loving where it was going until it was time to stop painting and make soup and drive carpool and parent and partner and all of those other bits of life.  i did a few things differently on tuesday - i taped the paper differently, i allowed for more drying time, i moved deliberately.  i'm learning to be patient.  (ha!  if anyone who has met me is actually reading this, you're laughing now.  i understand.)

so tuesday was terrific and now, not surprisingly, i'm all kinds of tentative about today because i've reached a point where i'm happy with my progress - really happy - and i don't want to ruin things.  so i decided to take a break.  eat a bowl of soup.  look at paintings by david hockney, maira kalman, and louisa matthiasdottir (all three gifts over the years, extra gratitude for that today).  and remember the following:

1. "don't be precious about it,"  wisdom from my first painting teacher.

2. " important it is for each of us to simply be who we are. To make what speaks to us. Ignore those little voices that tell us what we should do or how we should be. How boring life would be if everyone were the same!"  brilliant words from my friend blair, which i came across serendipitiously this morning. 

3. these words by edgar degas via lisa congdon.

back at it, then.

until soon.


light, (5)

i had forgotten how much i love to sit and watch the candles burn.


my october sketchbook

i'm having trouble deciding where to start telling this story.  should i start with the tiny spare bedroom i use to paint - the one that easily turns into a dumping ground when i'm not painting regularly?  or should i start with the crazy fall schedule that found the jewish new year just two days after the start of school and me not painting for the entire month of september?  or should i start with my desire to update the painting portion of my website, which kept me shooting and uploading instead of painting?

no matter.  at the end of september, after a month of not painting - and when the thought of picking up a brush felt daunting - i decided to take the pressure off.  i made the commitment to put paint on paper every day in the month of october.  it wasn't going to be fancy - i used my sketchbook (a large moleskine) - and i gave myself permission to do as much or as little as i wanted to do each day.  the only rule was that i had to make a mark on paper with paint each day.

and i loved it.  i will admit that there were several 10 o'clocks when i passed the studio on my way to put on my pjs and remembered that i hadn't yet painted - some of those were my favorites.  and there were the days that we were in santa fe when i didn't paint at all.  but most other days found me looking forward to that time with the brushes in hand.

i painted in acrylics, which made things quick and easy.  some days i only squeezed out two or three colors and some days i used the whole rainbow.  some days i used sharpie marker, some days i collaged other elements onto the paper.  when i ran out of tin foil while making dinner one night, i started stamping the paint with the end of the roll you find inside of your tin foil.  i let my pages stick together.  i cut my stuck-together pages apart with a palette knife or an x-acto.  i used too much water.  i used too much matte medium.  i stuck wax paper between the pages.  i decided not to be precious about it.  i let my brushes sit in the water too long, ahem.  my sketchbook no longer closes really.  

and i loved it.  

i have been so inspired by my friends who have had daily drawing practices.  (there are many, but blair comes first to my mind - i haven't forgotten blair's post about painting in an old book that she had gessoed over - it was an aha moment for me, who likes things to be neat and tidy.)  there really is something to be said for just doing it, which is exactly what i'm off to do right now!