Friday, January 14, 2011

A Work In Progress

One of the things that I promised my readers was a tour of a painting process.

I started a seascape back in July.

While I did post the first image of that production, and here it is again in the upper corner as a reminder, for several reasons I haven't given it as much attention as I should.

As a result, I have no updates to show. 

I was thinking about why I wasn't getting around to working on that piece and decided I should just start over and take you through the work on something different and new.

So, I grabbed a stretched canvas, pictured here on the left, and set it out in my painting space.

I had decided that I was going to do a winter scene, as there's the alluring part of leaving part of the canvas white where the brightest snow appears and it's winter so I have a lot of reference material just looking out any window.

The hardest part, some say, is putting the first line on any piece of canvas or paper.  The trepidation is that you'll ruin it right from the start or get it wrong and not know it, and it's much later on before you see where you went wrong.  That's really bad.

However, I had things to do before I could commit to time in the "studio" (not a fancy artist space, just a spare room with a futon in "couch" position) and promised to get to the art as soon as the dishes were done and the place was picked up.

Unfortunately, I left the TV on and between chores was caught up in the Today Show and the local news, but knew that I had plenty of time left in the day for creation processes.

I was on my way back to the drawing room, content that the house looked suitable for the balance of the day, when the phone rang.  It was my brother.  We talk for a few minutes almost daily, I look forward to his chats, and it's never more than 10 or 15 minutes...not a prob.

During our conversation, I was reminded that I had to go to town (remember, no sidewalks leading to interesting and useful shops within a short bipedal commute) to pick up a few necessaries, but wanted to do something productive with the canvas prior to trekking to town.

After a short chat on the phone, I headed to my art space, put the canvas up on the easel and stood back to contemplate its arrangement (horizontal or vertical, hmmm?).  I had to decide whether to focus on the trees I was thinking about highlighting or a full landscape.  I put a light wash over the whole thing, as the white of the canvas was bothering my eyes, and stood back.

While I was cogitating on wide or tall, I noticed that the room was cool and remembered that I needed to bring in more wood for the wood stove.  Didn't want to have all of the embers go out, so I turned my back on the canvas, grabbed my outdoor gloves, and brought in enough wood for the day.  The clock in the basement, where the stove is located, has one of those bird call sounds that chirp or hoot on the hour and it went off while I was stoking the fire.  "Lunch time," is what I heard.

As I hopped up the stairs, I took one more quick look at the stretched canvas to "check it out" for possibilities and it looked much like it did earlier in the day.  But, it had more possibility!  And, I liked the vertical position...stronger, I thought, than the horizontal.

I finished up my mid-day meal and then remembered the trip to town!

Out here, in the wilderness, one plans several stops to make the most of the time and effort, and I had four places to go to.  Some groceries, some gas, some house warming items (needed to put some insulation around the door opening, the cold air just seems to be rushing in), and some new windshield wiper blades and washer fluid for my wife!  Sounds simple, but it's half an hour down and back and then time for the efforts.

I got back just in time for a round of phone calls.  Seems the marketers, who aren't supposed to be calling you, call in sequence and it's one "He's not here" after another!

The insulation seemed to be a priority so I took the time to rip off the old stuff and put the new stripping in place.  After putting away the grocery items, I took my time to get the new insulation in place and, while it's not perfect, it's better than what was there.  The best thing of all, I didn't break anything else doing it...that's like a first!

I was so impressed with myself, I had to email my brother to let him know of that success.  Of course, I had other incoming email that had to be attended to.  And then, as long as I was on-line, I had to check Facebook and LinkedIn and look at my blog to see who else might have looked at it, and recheck my email (and there were more), and then remembered an update to a file I was working on.

So, it was about two hours later when I remembered my painting...or non-painting, as it was.

I took the time to go back to the room to look at it and decided that horizontal was going to work better than vertical and I made the great move to change that.

Here it is on the right after that monumental change and effort.  What do you think?

I know what I thought right away!

I was painting a winter picture and was going to leave the canvas white!  That changes everything!  Now, what to do?  How could I overcome this mistake?  What had I done?

You see, an artist's world can be shaken in a moment.  Just one action can be the difference between "feeling good" and "disaster."  I knew what I had to do.  I got out the gesso and painted over the entire surface to make it white again!

Now, of course, I couldn't start anything as I had to wait for the surface to dry.

That was okay, as I had laundry to do and dinner to prepare, and I still had work to do on that computer file I was attending to, so I headed back upstairs content that I had done some more work on this painting in progress.

I got caught up in my computer work and then the news came on.  By this time, it was the evening news and during that time my son came home from work.  He was hungry and I had leftovers from last night.  I fixed him a plate and then figured I might as well eat, too.

I had my dinner in front of the TV and then got into my usual nighttime television, Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert and, being Friday, Supernatural.

My wife worked late today, showing up halfway through that last program.  I greeted her, fixed her a late snack and then settled in to discussing the day.

I asked her how her day went, "Okay," she said, then she asked what I did today.

"Oh," I replied quickly, "I started a painting!"

She asked if she could see it.  I brought it up to her from the room below.  As she looked at it she said, "What is it?"  I realized I was holding it wrong and quickly put it in a horizontal position.

"I still don't see anything, what is it," she asked?

"A work in progress," I replied.

"What's the progress part," asked she?

"Um," I said, "Sheep in a Snowstorm?"

"Right," said she, "Show it to me again when you've spent some time on it."

As she walked away I replied, "I spent all day on it!"  Sigh....


  1. Are you following me around and documenting my art proceces? 'Cause that's how my canvases look right now!!!

  2. I counted, and I have more than 20 that look like this...perhaps we should start framing them and offer them for, how about "intentional art?"

  3. When can I get $1.2M for the Cunningham I have hanging in my living room?

  4. As soon as you can find someone to pay you $1.2 million for it!