I hope you don’t mind if I get personal. Something has been missing from my life. I was seeing it every day from all points, sharing with you when I found it elsewhere, yet finding it lacking for myself. I’m talkin’ about the ARTSY. You see, once upon a time, I could paint. I could draw. And I loved it. But post-college, life happened, I got a string of “real jobs” ( art related, fortunately ) and in general, the busyness of life took over. Occasionally I would dust off my paints and brushes, but those creative rendezvous where growing fewer and farther in between.
You might think that the perfect opportunity to get back into it came when Mr. Forager & I began traveling. No longer would I have the constraints of working a 40+ hour work week, no longer would I be maintaining and upkeeping a house, we’d be far from family, so no excuse of making time for everyone but me. And I did think about it. But it scared the daylights out of me. That little voice inside ( you know, the nasty, mean one ) told me I’d waited too long. Any skill I’d cultivated and talent I’d had was gone. Who was I to try to be an artist? I worked with and personally knew so many phenomenally talented artists. I didn’t feel worthy of even trying to join their ranks. So I choose to stretch my creative muscles in a different direction– I wrote about those phenomenal talents here on the blog. All the while knowing something was missing.
Instead of cultivating my own creative spirit, I’d thrown all my energy into celebrating the creativity of others. Please don’t get me wrong, I adore creating, writing, and developing Artsy Forager! Yet I find myself feeling envious of all the artists I was discovering. HE has such a way with paint, SHE can draw like nobody’s business. I wanted to get back the artistic mojo I’d been missing. For Christmas 2011, Mr. Forager gave me a new set of acrylics and a full-size foldable easel. I’m ashamed to say I can count on two fingers the times I’ve used them. There always seemed to be a reason not to. But now we’ve been here in Joshua Tree for 4 months with 2 1/2 more to go. We’re in a house big enough for me to have room to paint. No more excuses.
So Sunday, while Mr. Forager was brewing beer, I got out my paints and brushes and set up my easel. Underpainting, done. Easy enough, just a wash of phthalo blue. There was a photograph I’d taken of rocks in water that I decided to use as my jumping off point. I sketched in the shadows and forms and started pushing in color and highlights. But it wasn’t working. At times it looked OK, I started to remember what I loved about the process, but then it all seemed to fall apart. I hated what I was doing. I didn’t find it at all creative or inspiring. Mr. F could tell it wasn’t going well. He lovingly reminded me that this was supposed to be fun. And correctly pointed out that maybe I was just trying too hard. I continued to stew and then just got mad. At myself. And with that, I did what most angry artists would do– I destroyed what I’d done with more paint. I slashed cadmium yellow and alizarin crimson all over the tight, controlled mess I’d already concocted. And I immediately felt better. And inspired.
I continued just freely pushing paint, slashing, spraying, muddying, wiping, taking a break and then doing it all again. Mr. F brought me a glass of Kona Koko Brown, one of the few beers I love, and I continued to play. I forgot that I was trying to make “art” and just enjoyed how the colors were working and what the paint was doing. I could see something emerging that made me happy. I was loving the way the colors were mixing, the way light was coming through. I had a breakthrough. You can see the results of my day below.
Do I think this is the most fabulous inspiring painting I’ve ever seen? Not even close. But compared to where I began that day, I’m pretty happy. It feels good to have a visceral connection to paint again. I have a long way to go. But I’ve vowed to try to create something every day, whether it be just a sketch or a quick study in paint on paper. I’m even inspired to begin a series ( more on that later ). My creative muscles need exercise. I’m sharing this with you because I’m sure you’ve experienced something similar. And because I needed to tell someone. And I need accountability. So if you don’t mind, I’ll occasionally share a little of my own artistic journey. It will be nice to have some company.
All images by Artsy Forager.