Habit-forming

I meant to use this blog as a studio journal, but I have still kept my notes on scraps of paper or jotted the occasional thoughts on painting in my regular blog. I don’t realize right away that I’m thinking about painting, especially because so much of the way I work is rooted in the way I live, but I would like to get more of that put down, made into images, and worked through.

Since February, I’ve been incredibly busy with school and work, I spent three weeks in Italy, and I’ve had a whirlwind of activity in my life. I have not, unfortunately, done much painting.

I think if I want to cultivate a more regular studio habit, I need to pay more attention to thoughts and observations as they come, without worrying about the way they reflect on me. Self-consciousness has had enormous inhibitory effects in my life lately.

I am still slowly plugging away at the red and blue painting. I went over the red areas with an opaque cadmium red, making them solid shapes instead of a modeled background layer. I was attempting to make it a unified plane, against which the blue forms would push and pull, playing with the color relationships. It’s fun to invert the receding movements with value changes and fight against the natural inclinations of colors, though I’m sure this game has been played many times before.

I’ve been finding enormous inspiration in plants, flowers, water, and nature, now that I’m living at the shore again. I wonder if the synthetic feel that my painting took on at Pratt was to do with imagination-fueled inspiration that wasn’t grounded in the observable world. It felt like virtual painting, a computerized pastiche, rather than dreaming in nature’s presence. Neither approach is better or worse than another, but I find I’m much happier when I feel viscerally moved to paint by all the things I see and experience.

I have some literal and figurative housekeeping to do with my paintings and the huge pile of works in progress. It feels silly to keep starting new paintings when I have so many ideas I still want to work through in their incipient phases, but at the same time, I keep stepping in this river a different person, and I want to start with a new feel, new colors, new strategies and so on to reflect that. The solution, I suspect, is to get better at finishing what I started, or to accept that when I’ve let something fizzle out, it was probably for a good reason.