Just before the coming of this new year, a fellow artist invited me to participate in a challenge sponsored by the Strada easel company to paint or draw something from life (not photographs or imagination) each day for the month of January and post results to Instagram. Coincidentally, my husband gave me a fitness watch for Christmas and I signed up for a virtual training program to work up to running a 5K. I don’t think I’m the only artist to have experienced spells of artistic inaction due to feelings of lack of worthy ideas, getting stuck mid-way on a project, or loss of momentum due to distractions or events. Sometimes we need a push to keep the artistic flow going, or to get off the couch.
I accepted the Strada challenge and it was a positive experience. It was freeing; I designated a couple of subjects and technical issues to work on and resolved not to allow self-criticism to interfere. While I don’t subscribe to the notion that art-making is primarily about emotional expression, my mood is better at the end of the day when I have spent time engrossed in the process of looking, analyzing and responding through drawing or painting, an added benefit to the technical practice.
The Strada company makes portable easel equipment for painting in plein air. I managed to get outside for a few sessions, if not far from the house. In January the weather is not ideal, even in my Southern climate. There are hardy souls who paint in the snow, but a bit of wind and chilly temperatures drive me indoors. Unsurprisingly, still lives dominated the challenge feed. I applied my sensibility to that genre to put a slightly surreal cast on studies of eroded seashells from my extensive collection, “cheating” a bit with invented backgrounds. While I admire those who can complete a successful painting in one session, I was glad this challenge allowed participants to post stages of a work in process, since I was not always able to overcome my meticulous nature and capture a subject alla prima. When time was too short to deal with oil paint, it was fun to fill a sketchbook page with drawings of our cats and share that.
Now that the challenge month is over, I need to get back to completing projects that have been on hold and designing some larger paintings, so I won’t be posting something new online every day. But I plan to continue the good habits jump-started by holding myself accountable to a commitment. I will post some of the finished results from January on my Small Works and Studies portfolio page. (And yes, I have kept up with the running program!)
Here I will keep you up to date on my exhibits and other artistic endeavors.