The perspective in this photograph feels like a metaphor. It feels like it’s full of metaphors, actually, just like the asparagus was. Words don’t form for me about it, though. If I try putting it into words, I get lost. Not finding words is something new. Or maybe it’s something old that I’m finally accepting?
Painting lets me share without words, whether I’m viewing them or making them. When I visit van Gogh’s paintings I get as close as the staff will allow (that’s much closer than most “polite” museum-goers usually get). First, I stand back at the regular viewing position. I take in the whole picture; the shapes and layout, the lights and darks, the feelings it brings up in me. IMG_1832 Then, I get in close:
I look as close as I can so I can see the brush strokes. (I’ve seen his fingerprints, too!)IMG_1833Looking very, very closely is what I do. Aware of the larger picture, I get in close and take it apart. I see the pieces. The whole picture is still there and doesn’t exist without all of the close-in parts; the close-in parts are usually luscious and meaty even when the overall picture is delicate or light.
Writing, even just this train-of-thought casual stuff, maybe especially this stuff, feeds my soul (if I believed in souls). Considering and discussing ideas also nourishes me. I love words. I love dancing with them — “nourish” isn’t quite right back there — and appreciating them. But, while I enjoy writing, the movement of ideas or thoughts or concepts from inside my brain out into the world in a verbal way isn’t comfortable or satisfying for me. Writing allows me time to consider my thoughts before getting the words out. And then there’s the fact that my inner-world has many places with no words; that’s why I paint.
Lately, instead of considering painting a luxury I can’t afford, both in terms of finances and time, I’ve realized I can’t fight it anymore. I need to get it out. Nothing has really changed in my life, except that, in some respects, everything has.

Periodically, I send updates to the folks who backed my kickstarter project. I’ve been feeling out of sorts when it comes to my social activities online lately. I’m wondering if writing some blog posts (instead of aimlessly refreshing twitter, reading blogs, or checking Facebook) might bring me back into a good groove. So, instead of posting this “for backers only” via kickstarter, here’s an update for anyone who visits this blog about how the “Three New Paintings” project is going.
I have three paintings actively in progress, though (as the backers know) it’s unlikely I’ll have three finished in time for July’s show — I was too ambitious and didn’t think through how long things take and how short June 1 to June 30 is.
One is, so far, exclusively oil pastels. It’s 10×10 which is smaller than I’ve used in a while. With this one, I’m finding the line between “a picture” and “a painting.” It’s a nice picture right now, but there are several sections (most of it) that are almost entirely uninteresting. I’ll work on that tonight to see about turning it into a painting (where each area feels complete).
The second is 20×24. I started this before the smaller one, but it is of a related image. This is the first time that I’m making paintings that are different views or portrayals of a similar image. With this, I’ve added some layers of very thin (lots of medium) paints over a large part of the painting but am still using only oil pastels on much of it.
The last is the largest (I forget the dimensions) and it’s one I started almost a month ago. I stumbled into the idea of what I thought of as making layers, but is apparently called “glazing.” An old friend of mine (I babysat for her children in the 90s) sent me a message describing her passionate position on glazing — using thin layers of paint, allowing the layers to dry in between, showing the luminescence and depth of the previous layers.

the painting where I stumbled into “layering”
my feet 🙂 and the mixing I did when I painted a bit this afternoon
just about finished (for this afternoon’s layers). also, the shade or sunlight (?) make this look much bluer than it actually is
finished (for today) — this shows the colors more accurately

I can already tell that blogging won’t be the solution to my dissonance about online life. I’ve already been simply “not online” a lot more than is usual for me (it didn’t seem to be helping) but I suppose I’ll go do more of that for a while. Thank you for visiting and reading my stuff here. 🙂

$119 worth of paint (most of the $ paid for the 5 tubes on the left)
When I squeezed the first little bit out of my new Old Holland paint, I was careful. “Just a touch of this fancy new paint,” I thought, “It’ll probably go a lot farther than the paint I usually use.”
“Let me mix in a lot of the bloopy stuff (one of the mediums meant to mix with oil paints). That’ll make the paint last longer.”
My body felt tight. My hand and arm felt tentative as I moved the brush. My usual free and quick motions, so fluid and mindfully mindless, were caught up in the expense of buying the higher quality paints. The money I used came from the successful kickstarter project I ran in May (thank you, backers!), so it wasn’t money out of my bank account. But, also it was money out of my bank account, no matter the source. Money for groceries has been a concern in recent memory, so I’m pretty careful about every dollar I spend.
I squeezed out some more paint. I needed the blue to be greener. Then I needed it to be glossier. Then I needed it to be lighter. Now slicker. Now smoother and back into blue a little bit more. My brush started moving faster and with more flow and direction. I began feeling the painting.
Still, I felt caution. I took a tub that I had saved from an earlier painting and figured I could use that (white) instead of “wasting” new paint from the new tube. I did this for a bit until I discovered bits of the gummy film that forms on oil paint as it dries. This painting was meant to be smooth, clear, clean. The textures I have worked with in paintings before didn’t have a home in this one. I removed the scummy bits as much as I could and then I had to let go of a lot of wasted paint. The very expensive paint, the mediums, the large quantity of paint was all ruined. I considered saving it (again) for a painting where texture wouldn’t need to be smooth, but dried bits of old paint aren’t something I imagine myself wanting to incorporate to any painting in the future.

Finally, I decided I needed to use the paints. Really use the paints as I wanted to. Use the paint as the painting and the brushes and the wind and sun and REM’s music told me to. It was pretty messy. It was a little frustrating but in an exhilarating way (the painting would get *this* close to feeling as if the layer was finished, I’d see a section I wanted to tweak, and the whole thing would start shifting). At one point I added a color with a grey tone and the whole thing began turning muddy. Bringing it back to clear colors was tough, though it’s almost there. I had to stop because I was running out of time and I’m sure the best thing for the colors will be to take a break, clean everything, and start fresh with the clarity I need.
When I begin again in a couple days, I’ll start free. I’ll know that being paralyzed by the need for caution will block my painting. Something this worthwhile deserves all the wet and sloppy, error-laden, gooey, gloppy, bold and surprising messes I need to make.

My parents were coming through town from their summer place (they visit a few times off-season to “rough it” a bit) and were there to help me. What a difference it made, having extra hands and eyes to try to get things hung straight and balanced. (Plus, the all-expenses-paid sushi extravaganza after wasn’t too bad…)
I’ll be in town for First Friday tomorrow (May 4). If you would like to check out my paintings and talk with me about them in person, please feel free to email me and I’d be happy to meet you there.
As I was setting up, I taught my father how to take pictures with my phone and he took a lot. Here are some of them:


Also, I’ve set up a kickstarter project in an attempt to raise funds to buy more paints, pastels, birch panel, and other supplies to make more paintings. I’ve now sold two (yay!) and with shows coming up (shows?) I need to keep making more. If you would like to know more, or make a pledge, you can do that here.
Thanks for all the blog-based support. It helps. 🙂