Thursday, June 6, 2019

Prepping for Passion

I hear there are people who plan their tasks and activities... and stick to it. Sadly, that's not me. But even though I don't fill a calendar with blocks of studio time, I do paint often and I'm trying to be ok with that.

The thing is there are more painting ideas than there is painting time, so it can feel like I'm falling behind. But, I'm trying to focus on what I can do and not what I think I should do: finding time for painting in between... life.

When it comes to art, it may be hard to be disciplined, but it's easy to be passionate.

Not to malign discipline, but passion can be a more powerful force. And here's an example why: this little painting of shaving brushes was started while I was out of town - helping with baby, toddler and puppy care for a week!

I had borrowed the brushes from a friend and was looking forward to painting them, so I packed my easel hoping for a place to set up, out of sight and reach of little ones. And it worked because having a designated spot at the ready means getting back to painting quickly. Even short bits of time can be productive.

The composition was kept simple to focus on the textures and surfaces of this fuzzy family. And that  made stopping and starting easier.
Vintage shaving brushes, brush handles, barber brush
Family Resemblance ©2019 Dorothy Lorenze, 6x9"
The day after returning home from my "toddler adventure" I got reorganized, repacked and headed to a portrait workshop in Vermont. It's taken several years to talk myself into tackling portraiture and a three day workshop was a good immersion. Like being on a cruise - you can't exactly jump ship.

Instructor Tina Garrett did beautiful demos each morning. Then we worked from a live model. Daunting! And I didn't get very far by the end of the day. But, since I had planned to paint in the hotel room at night and since this portrait had its hooks in me, I took it back and continued painting. There was natural light in the workshop but the hotel light was incandescent, so at 6am I sat in front of my window to make color warmer and was so engrossed I was late for class. Oops.
oil painting portrait, village arts of putney
Kayla (unfinished) ©2019 Dorothy Lorenze
I haven't quite finished this yet but it's getting there and I'm glad I worked on it after hours. I  still need to adjust values (clean up her dirty neck) and if I can capture the subtle transitions in her skin I will be super happy.

Very soon after the Vermont workshop came a trip south. My painting gear was back on the road! On this trip the kids were older and my temporary studio was actually a corner of the living room. (My family must love me).

A commission I needed to work on was the perfect project for this visit, as it was to be painted from a photo. With no objects to set up or move, it was a bit less intrusive for the family - or so I tell myself. I haven't painted cabbage in years and totally enjoyed the many beautiful gradations from green to red to purple in the leaves and veins.

still life painting, original oil painting, cabbage, lemon
Red Head ©2019 Dorothy Lorenze, 8x10"
With all the recent travel I haven't set foot in my own studio for weeks. Knowing how little time there would be for painting made me even more determined to find a way to fit it in.

I feel better, more human, when I can paint. That's the passion that drives me. 
And if it looks like discipline, I'll take the credit!

If you're trying to squeeze more art time into your life, start by making space - physical space - for art. A separate studio is great but a spare bedroom, closet or just a rolling cart tucked in a corner will do. Having a dedicated space makes it easier to get to work. Even if all you do is sit in your erstwhile studio and think about what comes next, it's a step in the right direction. More productive than spending time scrolling through social media looking for inspiration. And I'm willing to bet something artistic will come of it.

This has been my creative corner recently, with boxes piled next to my easel for my iPad with the cabbage photo and podcasts (This time it was The Studio: Danny Grant interviewing Patricia Watwood. Click the link to have a listen).

To make art, make space. Give your passion a place to blossom.

studio on the road, studio nook

Thank you for joining me on my art journey.

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  1. Thank you for sharing about this. I especially love - and need the reminder - that even sitting in my art space helps me consider what is next. It's a chance to move past the mental chatter.

  2. I hate to sit the fence on this one, but you have to have both. There are days and projects that you just cant wait to start, and you soar until it's your new best work. Other times you have to rely on discipline to get yourself in the studio and make some, or any progress. Like with most things in life a good balance is usually healthy. Today for example was a well balanced day, I painted most of the morning and in the afternoon I prepped a staging area for my next still life series, which involved some carpentry. I agree, that there are always more ideas than time to paint them all! How can we solve that?!


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