Looking Down the Road (Ojai) – 2006
“Looking Down the Road (near Ojai) – 5 x 7 study – oil on canvasboard
The end of a year is a time for taking a look at the road one has traveled, as well as the road ahead.
Today, a look back.
At the beginning of this year, I posted A list of resolutions which included a resolve to paint daily, to paint larger, to participate in activities of our local art association and to take a figure drawing class. The local studio that features figure drawing lost its lease, so that goal will be pushed into 2007.
Some highlights of my year …
I started with a period of intense sketchbook painting at Descanso Gardens. I must have returned to the Japanese gardens dozens of times to observe it in different seasons and lights.
Although I continued to draw, I pushed painting to the forefront, painted daily and read every book I could get my hands on – books by Frank Webb, Edgar Whitney, Kate Johnson, Charles Reid, Jan Kunz and others. I immersed myself in watercolors by JS Sargent, Homer, Turner, Constable and Delacroix.
I went on numerous sketchcrawls and discovered the fun of trying to do a painting – albeit a sketchbook painting – quickly and loosely. The experience helped me learn to look at color and value in the environment.
About that time I started doing some digital oil paintings in Corel Painter and Photoshop. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was starting to entertain the idea of painting in ‘real’ oils again – something I hadn’t done since I was a newlywed – a very long time ago. Probably I was toying with the notion before investing in the supplies!
Around June, I got out of my Aquabee sketchbook and started using 140 # watercolor paper, as I had some 20 years ago, and began to think more about composition. I was invited to join a plein air painting group, whose company I’ve enjoyed on a weekly basis.
In the second half of the year, I experimented with a variety of media: watercolor, pastel, acrylic and finally, in September, oil.
In watercolor I began painting on larger sheets, and although I haven’t tackled a 22 x 15 inch sheet yet, I’m feeling just fine with 11 x 15 and smaller. The experience of trying out these different media was liberating. In a way it was like being in college again, with the whole course catalog to choose from. I’m still very much in that experimental phase, and perhaps I always will be. I find it tremendously exciting to look at a subject and then to think about which medium I want to use to express it. Sometimes, this past year, I’ve done the same subject in different media, just to learn from the experience.
And I guess I’d have to say that’s the theme of the year for me: intensive learning.
Around October I decided to enter a juried competition with our local art association, and was pleased to have three things juried into the show, and to get a prize. Fortified by this happy experience, I entered another peer reviewed contest and was rewarded again.
With the constant encouragement of friends and family, I also decided to offer a few artworks for sale – and that has also been a very pleasant experience. (Thank you, everyone!)
In November-December I attended watercolor demo workshops every weekend, put on by Watercolor West and the National Watercolor Society. Seeing outstanding watercolorists at work is both inspiring and energizing. I can hardly wait until next year’s demo series.
In November I joined the cadre of Daily Painters at dailypainters.com and made the commitment to do a watercolor, oil or pastel painting daily (well, mostly, except for some of the holidays.) I plan to continue that indefinitely.
This year has brought new friends, new experiences, new challenges and new opportunities – almost all through the shared love of art. I couldn’t ask for more but to continue learning and growing as much as I can for as long as I can.
I thank my artistic boon companions – every single one of you – for accompanying me on this Creative Journey for this, and previous years. Especially , I’d like to thank my dear husband for his constant support of this rediscovered passion of mine. He shares my journey to new places to sketch or paint – a trail in the mountains, or a scroungy junkyard. He takes me to museums and brings his cameraman’s eye for composition and lighting, which enhances my experience through our lively conversation. And he’s the first one to suggest and implement ingenious solutions – whether it’s turning a paintbox and a tripod into a portable easel or rigging excellent lighting from pro movie lights for painting indoors. I am a very blessed woman, and I know it!
This is getting pretty long, so I’m going to break this into a few parts. Tomorrow I’ll probably post some of my favorite paintings of the year and what they represented to my Creative Journey at the time. And the day after that, I’ll talk about where I want to go from here. Subject to change without notice, of course!