I turn 43 in a couple of weeks and I’ve been thinking about what it is I’m doing with my life and asking myself a lot of questions around my purpose. This year for the first time, I realized that I do this every year before my birthday, and so it hasn’t negatively impacted me like it has in the past. Rather than being upset and doubting myself, I’m noticing my thoughts and acknowledging that this is normal for me at this time of year. It feels good not to freak out over this stuff, to have perspective and to be able to sit with what used to be uncomfortable thoughts for me.
Does your birthday mark a time of reflection for you? Or send you into a tailspin? What kind of things do you think about during that time?
My family and I returned home from our adventures on the road two days ago, and it feels good to be back in the studio.
Over the years I developed some tools to help myself get back into the flow of work after time away (even if it’s just one night). One of the tactics I use is to leave some unfinished work to do so I can jump right back in. When we left two weeks ago I left an unfinished drawing, and after two sessions I finished it yesterday morning. It’s a drawing of a possum skull my mom found in the woods. I keep a collection of small animal skulls in my studio because they are beautiful and wonderful to draw.
I’m also conscious of how relaxed I feel from being on vacation, and I’m making a concerted effort (in the most relaxed way of course) to maintain this vibe. (Yes, I said vibe because it’s summer and I’m relaxed, ok?) What this translates into is noticing when work or life is making me anxious, and trying to let go of the tension in my shoulders or wherever it happens to be. You might say I’m living mindfully. Aha! Do I need more vacation to keep working on this kind of awareness?
One thing is for sure, I’m missing being able to watch entire stages of the Tour de France like I did on holiday. Cyclists in the Tour rode up Mont Ventoux, or the “Giant of Provence” yesterday – not once, but twice!
In honor of this beast of a climb, below is the “Ventoux” painting recently commissioned by a collector, one of the Epic Rides custom series.
I have a few open slots for commissioned paintings in the next few months. Email me if you’d like to chat about a possible custom painting of your own.
And if you’d like to commission an artwork and want to spread out the cost over time, I’ll be happy to set up an interest-free payment plan for you. Read more about this here or simply email me to chat.
In this series of landscapes the feel of wide open spaces meets a soft geometry – a meditative play of shapes and colors.
What started this body of work was a question I asked on Facebook: What outdoor spaces bring you peace and happiness? Friends sent me photos of their special landscapes, and I used those images as a jumping off point to create small paintings, my Tiny Landscapes.
Using those paintings, I then created the larger works in “Searching on the wind.” Some of them stayed true to the small paintings, and some veered in other directions. After working on a painting for a while, it starts to take on a life of its own, and if you know how to listen, paintings will “ask” for one thing or another. Finished paintings are a conversation between the artist and the painting – or maybe with the muse or the universe…
I hope these paintings will evoke the poetry of nature and bring a sense of wonder and a breath of fresh air into your life.
Lately I’ve been living and working more slowly. I realized working at a break-neck speed isn’t sustainable or enjoyable anymore, and that since I work for myself, I could give myself permission to work more slowly. The fact is I will always get my work done, so I can choose to take my time and enjoy the process. I’m not a procrastinator, so it doesn’t make sense for me to anxiously work fast anyway. This is all easier said that done however. I realized I needed to slow down in 2020, but it’s taken me a year to actually put it into practice.
I’m also deliberate about not multitasking if I can help it. Most of the time, genuine multitasking isn’t actually as effective as singletasking for me (not sure this word exists, but I’m using it) and at the end of a long work session of multitasking, while I might feel virtuous, everything feels like a bit of a blur, and the process definitely isn’t enjoyable.
There are certainly tasks I can complete relatively quickly and painlessly, but generally speaking these days I’ve been mindful about my thought processes and the way I do things, and I feel overall more content while working and living more slowly. Except on certain designated bike rides when speed is kind of the point of the ride – that’s different.
On that note, here’s what’s happening in the studio right now. And yes, I did mention that I don’t multitask, but I typically do have multiple projects going on at once. I just don’t work on them simultaneously.
I’m working on a series of landscapes where I’m playing with shapes and colors. I’m working slowly, trying to figure out the kind of color-play I want, refining the edges of shapes, thinking about the feel of the surface…
It feels good to take my time and work meditatively. These are the first two in progress.
I started in reds and pinks and oranges, colors that I knew would be mostly covered up and dissonant with the colors in the finished paintings. I like to allow little sections of the underpainting to show between shapes or through brush marks. Now that I’ve covered up most of the underpainting, I’m reworking the colors to fine tune how they relate to each other.
I’m thinking of what I’ve learned through experience over years of painting and back to grad school in one of my favorite and most challenging classes: color theory. In this class we studied the Munsell color system, which breaks down color into three properties or dimensions: value, chroma and hue. The way I put this into practice as I paint is by making some colors darker or lighter (adjusting the value), making some more or less dull (chroma), and in some cases changing the color completely – like turning a violet into green (the hue).
Because the paintings are paired down with a few interlocking shapes, the colors become even more important. I think that as art becomes more minimal, each decision becomes more significant because everything is there to see, plain as day.
As I make changes in color, edges of shapes shift around too: some edges get more crisp and some become softer. This process is both intellectual and intuitive as I think through what I know about color relationships and how I want the paintings to feel.
These paintings feel like an important bridge for me. For years, I’ve been wanting to integrate the landscape with the geometric work I did in my Little Watercolor Squares series. (See some of the paintings here and the book here.) Last year, I made geometric interiors for my show at Elder Gallery. (See that work here.) These new paintings feel like an integration of all that past work, and that feels good. This work isn’t ego-driven. It’s not trying to prove anything. It just is.
On the other wall of my studio are some small paintings I made to test out compositions and colors for this new series. These little guys will be available at the Ardmore Art Walk on May 8th.
The larger painting on the right is a commissioned piece that’s drying. It was inspired by Amanda Gorman’s Inauguration Day poem.
To be the first to know when the landscapes above are available, subscribe to my Insider’s List here.
Hi everyone! Here’s your little meditative break – today with contour drawing! We can practice mindfulness through simple drawing. Here’s how.
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