For me, one of the challenges of being a full time artist is remembering what the practice of painting is all about. Last year I was guilty of allowing fear to control my choices. My fear was so logical I thought it was the voice of reason: look for money, try harder, paint certain sizes, say yes to everyone offering you money and so on and so forth. I listened to all of this "advice" and it nearly killed me! Not only did it cut me off from the source of my joy and creativity (my muse) it also cut me off from friends, family and got me absolutely no where in the financial department. When I finally realized what was going on I was so starved and weak I could barely remember how to recognize much less speak the language of shape and color.
Simply using the language is not the same thing as creating poetry but it's a start. This post comes at a midway point in rebuilding my practice as a painter. I have spent the past few weeks in my backyard and studio doing some hot and sweaty "workouts". My workout goal is not to make paintings but to use the act of painting to both remember (the language) and forget (past formulas). It's a true workout where I am strengthening my eye to hone in on the target. The target is the collection of color shapes that move me to pay attention for an extended period with the idea of connecting to to something bigger than myself via nature...in other words, creating a portal between my inner landscape and the outer world.
Like any workout it is intense, humbling and slow to show any signs of progress. I decided to do it crossfit style and make short, intense and a little different each time. Sometimes oil paint, sometimes watercolor. Sketching and memory work. Adding black and white to my watercolor palette. Anything and everything. Basically I'm trying to keep myself from being comfortable to remember to practice vs make paintings.
When working out it really helps to have a trainer and some specific goals. an art friend made a post this spring with a quote by Ken Kewley. I was inspired to dig a little deeper and found an "Notes on Color". It was a Redbull to my efforts and became my "trainer". I printed it out and read it frequently to keep my focused. Here's a link for those interested.
I have always believed in daily practice. The practice keeps the language fresh and the path open for the muses, for magic, for connection and for invention. This is the way of the poet.
I have planned some trips later this summer into public lands and natural areas around the state. I want to be strong enough to pay deep attention, hone in on what I love and have it reflected back to me in my painting. This is a lofty goal but you gotta have goals. For now, I'm in the backyard sweating.