“Windswept” 18 x 24 oil on canvas
This new painting was finished just a few days ago, and will be in the show at Descanso Gardens, now just two days away. It’s my favorite painting, so far, for a few reasons. For one, it’s the largest oil painting I’ve attempted and probably represents the most dynamic design. The larger size meant using larger brushes and standing back farther. Although I did the block in part sitting down, all the finishing was done standing, which was a different experience for studio painting. I almost always stand when painting en plein air, but not in studio.
The best part was the inspiration for this piece. A month or so ago we visited our daughter in San Francisco where she was doing her summer internship between the two years of her MBA program. We went up to Mt. Tamalpais for the day and had great time wandering through a redwood grove. On the way back we got caught up in the traffic returning over the Golden Gate bridge, and our movement came to a standstill. When I’m a passenger in a car, I almost always have my camera at the ready, and this time, I happened to see a tree clinging to a cliffside we passed. The light was striking it in a particularly dramatic way and I was immediately started thinking of creative possibilities. (It was not a cloudy day – I made that part up.) So because we were frustrated and inconvenienced, this shot became a possibility. Speeding by at 60 mph, it wouldn’t have been.
This incident reminds me of the value of acceptance. Acceptance of things the way they are, rather than how we would like them to be. Possibilities are all around us if we are not fixated on achieving specific results.
For example, you run out of the color of paint you want as you are beginning a painting. Use a different color and see what happens. Water dribbles in the wrong place on your watercolor. Is it an error or a doorway to a new shape that you might not have tried? You leave your pencil sharpener at home and have to sharpen a tool with an exacto knife instead – creating a different sort of edge. I’ve heard stories of artists who suddenly develop an allergy to their medium of choice, and have to switch to another, leading to breakthroughs in their careers. These stories are abundant in art and other endeavors.
Have you had this happen to you? How did it change your art or, even more so, your life? How did acceptance of something unexpected or even unwelcome make a difference for you?