Another catch-up post, this one originally dated 5/15/14.
In my prior post I started describing my intentional evolution in art. I am old enough — and perhaps you are as well? — to know that if you want something, you have to take steps to make it happen. The Art Fairy is not very likely to arrive at my door telling me that I am now prepared to make a great leap forward in my painting! So I got advice from a successful and experienced artist, as I described.
I also did a sort of self-study. I made two pieces of paper, each with a dozed thumbnail images of my paintings. One sheet had twelve paintings that I especially liked; the other a dozen of (ahem) not my best work. This evaluation was mine alone. I am continually interested to notice how individual art is, and how people may well love a painting that I thought was so-so, while another that I think is wonderful gets displayed at show after show and doesn’t sell. It’s a mystery. Just as an example (I know I am digressing here!), at the VCAM reception, I noticed a woman taking some time looking at a particular painting. Even after she was officially done looking at the show, and standing around chatting with someone, I saw her glance back over her shoulder at that painting a few times. She didn’t buy it, but she clearly found it compelling. It was one of the paintings that I had put on my page of not-so-wonderful work.
But my first goal is to make art that I love personally, so that is my beacon. I noticed a few things about the winners and losers (I exaggerate, but you know what I mean) sheets. One, there were more recent paintings on the winners sheet and more older work on the losers. Well, that certainly was good news. But I also noticed that more of the winners paintings were larger and more of the losers ones were smaller. It was by no means consistent, but more a matter of percentages. Why was that? As I thought about it more, I realized that more of the paintings I liked were from images that really appealed to me, and because of that I wanted to give them more space. The paintings that were less successful had a greater proportion of images that did not wow me. It’s almost as if I decided that I was not that thrilled about the image, so why not make just a little painting? Again, this was not at all consistent, but it was a definite trend. Of course, it was not about the size at all (some of the ones I loved were what I thought of as little gems), but about the size as a signifier of passion.
I had my important data: I need to love the image. It is not enough just to find something that feels OK to me. I should feel pulled toward it, I should be hungry to paint it. I have been trying to let that guideline be primary as I choose images for my work.
It is full Spring here, and in the woods the trillium sing an ode to the number three. I have seen the first of the goldthread, which have always struck me as flowers for elves. The hobblebush has started to bloom and the bluets make little napkins of soft sky color on the ground. The trees have that neon green of the first leaf growth. I especially love seeing that on old trees; it makes me think of elderly women giggling in lacy petticoats. I am enveloped in spring chores, and have had my first gin and tonic on the deck, a sure sign of warm weather.