I paint in order not to cry.
I love to work in series, to choose a subject and see how far I can go with it. Change it, work with it, experiment. This year I have felt pulled to flowers, more than in the past. I love the gardens at the eldercare facility where I work and I walk through them every day I'm there-- smelling, taking pictures, looking at colors, watching transformations. I walk my dog twice a day and observe the changes in nature I see along our paths. A chance opportunity landed in my lap early in 2019 and I have begun a Botanical Illustration certification program. Spring arrived. I feel this strong pull from several directions and am following this instinct.
On April 1 I started a new series, "100 Flowers in 100 Days", similar to my painting-a-day habit of a few years ago. I've relished it and am definitely not done with these paintings. Ideally I would have hit the 100th painting on July 9, but life, work, summer, vacation got in the way and I didn't make my deadline. The beauty of being your own boss and sole employee is that it doesn't matter if I break the rules. So I've continued along past the deadline and working on commissions and other projects that have come about.
I started out with a "chaos theory" technique with crazy underpainting and then working out flowers and arrangements with the negative space. Other paintings I added paper to. Some paintings were inspired by photos. I have used really bright colors and enjoyed florescent paint. I wondered if my sight was going as I couldn't seem to go bright enough, like when you keep adding more spice to foods when the flavor seems too bland. It's now the end of December and I'm up to about number 73. I've had fun naming them. It was too confusing to call one "Pink Flower" and then do ten more with pink flowers, so I named them according to what was going on while I was painting. One is called "Tastes Like A Combo" because that's what I was snacking on. One is called "Go Away Kelly So I Can Work" after a friend who wanted to chat all day (she is flattered not offended by the title), and so on. They are all posted on my website and listed on Etsy. Here are a few:
I've tried to line the wall of my studio with them but I have run out of room. I am hoping to find a venue to display a lot of them together.
In the spring and summer I couldn't paint them fast enough, was having so much fun, painted during the day and started new ones at night. The ideas kept coming and coming.
And then Fall approached, and naturally I got busy with holiday shows and commissions for clients. But I realize something else was going on, now that I am looking back. In early Fall, our family had Some Trouble that we have been dealing with since. I wanted to continue the flowers but haven't been able to follow through. I am still painting, but I find my colors darker as I work through this thing. The flower paintings seem too happy and upbeat for my mood. Usually color is the very thing that brings me out from under a grey cloud, and it will eventually, but for now I find the florescent paint too bright, the spontaneity of the flowers too tiring, the wonder of the flowers themselves dulled. I've realized that even my wardrobe has turned to mostly black these days, unless I am with people that I am totally comfortable and confident around, and then my usual bright colors appear. Ever since I presented a "spiritual journey" at my church years ago, and looked at the paintings as a whole, I saw everything I had been experiencing in life, right there on the canvas. Now I am aware of revealing myself in this way. I may hold my cards close verbally but my emotions are still out there to be seen.
I know this time period will pass. I've been through enough downs and difficulties to know that change is constant and we are always in a sort of transformation. My motto is, "I fall down. I get up." I long ago learned to accept these downturns, learn from them, and wait for the upswing. The last 27 flowers paintings will happen, and then some. Maybe in a week, or it may take a few months. I have no doubt the direction will change, and grow, and transform, but never stay the same. Stay tuned.
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