© 2020 by Alison Darrow.

Mayday!

May 1, 2016

Oh, hello there, long time no post! I didn’t realize I’d “gone dark” for so long; April kind of got away from me. During those 30 days now past, I started a painting class, created an Instagram account, attended a social media marketing class on creating Wix sites (which made me realize that I need to totally revamp this site… groan), started building my collection of artists’ acrylic spray paints, rediscovered yet more of my old work, began cutting stencils, took a zillion photos, and committed to doing at least one new painting (the old-fashioned way, with palette and brushes) each day. I spent my less constructive days doubting my commitment to art – which, reading this list, now seems hilarious – and my competence. Which is a wilier doubt with which to wrestle. I’m still looking for a way to pin it to the mat.

 

The class is titled Painting Believable Light, a skill I desperately want to acquire because the landscapes I love, the ones I live in and photograph, the ones my heroes paint, are all about light. Our teacher, Vincent Crotty, excels in rendering light and color; I’m really lucky to have found this class! He begins every class with a brief lecture and demonstration, producing an oil painting from a photograph in roughly an hour. For example, here's a source photo:

 

And here's his painting:

 

Astounding, right? And then it’s our turn. Gulp. I spent the first two classes (six hours or so) producing this little (12”x16”) painting in acrylics, which encourages me to believe I can capture light but discourages me because the draftsmanship falls so far short of what I’d like to accomplish. What I used to be able to do.

 

Also, I have a regrettable tendency to start painting boldly, but then wander into a muddy pastel wasteland. Argh!! Vincent (such an aptonym, no?) has recommended a number of resources and artists to study, so I’ve been hammering away at that between classes: reading book chapters, setting exercises and challenges for myself, and actually following through on some of them as time permits. Here are a couple of the 1-hour paintings I’ve done from my Vermont photos.

 

They fall far short of what I wanted to do… I plan to cycle through all 30 photos, doing them again each month, so I can see (please?) my progress.

 

 

I’m using Instagram to post photos, of course, but also to discover and follow other artists, and to get ideas for future projects. Gwenn Seemel, a French-American painter whose style I admire, posts  wonderful short videos that show exactly how she “makes the sausage.”

 

During April I also visited with a couple of long-time friends, one of whom has some of my old work that I’d completely forgotten about (I actually had to ask her whether one piece was mine!). I think this piece may have been the first one on which I tried spray paint.

 

At the time, artists’ acrylics weren’t available in spray form, making compatibility of materials an issue. That's why the top right-hand edge of the seat is rough: the water-based white acrylic paint wouldn't cover the sprayed underpainting. But it’s a whole new world now, and I’m really looking forward to playing with these new toys:

 

 

I’m still collecting paint colors, and I have many, many stencils to cut and sketches to render, and I’m still experimenting to see how my materials work together (or don’t), but the foundation for creating a lot of work is nearly in place. Onward!

 

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