Monday, March 1, 2021

Painting in the pandemic paralysis

When Covid isolation rules were new, we artists were fairly content with social constraints. After all, time on our own is put to good use in the studio. 

Although there was more time, progress was slower lately. Pandemic prognostications coupled with political upset were taking a toll. On the worst days inertia set in and Netflix took over (and I don't think I'm alone here!) Many amazing artists have created poignant and powerful work based on personal pain or social trials, but ... that’s not my motivation. I need to feel good to paint.

Turns out, when I’m distracted it’s difficult to focus, to distinguish details and to actually see! This was pretty disturbing because for realistic painting details are sort of important.

mandarin, orange, glossy leaves, angel wings
Mandarin Seraphim ©2020 Dorothy Lorenze

I set myself up for real frustration with my next painting of gourds, which ranged from creamy white to dusty green-grey. This composition was intended to be an exploration of subtle transitions, a challenge to accurately render delicate color and value shifts. But after days of working on it, I really couldn't hold on to the difference between a greyish green and a greenish grey, or whether the whites were warm or cool. So I gave up, set it aside and figured I would try again later. 

Ghost Gourds ©2021 Dorothy Lorenze

It still felt as though my vision was not up to snuff. Then Covid vaccines began to be available and it was such a mental relief that I felt I could see more. The gourds are still subtle but differences became easier to describe. Same objects, different perspective. Crazy.

Every painting subject has its challenges and my next painting was no exception. I knew I wanted to capture the texture of the limes realistically, to not look like a green egg or plastic ball. At the same time, I thought I could push the color in the reflections on the shiny glaze of the pitcher. And yet both needed to look like they belonged in the same painting, painted with the same hand. 

But, you know what? That didn't work. The dramatized reflections looked too abstract compared to the realism of the limes, which were more important. So, thankful for the forgiving nature of oil paint, I repainted "quieter" reflections.

Pitcher and Limes ©2021 Dorothy Lorenze

Changing course in a painting requires confidence which can be hard to come by. And impossible during a time so stressful that you don't even trust what you are seeing! Who knew a vaccine could help a painting!

I hope everyone is beginning to feel some relief as better news trickles in. This post is not meant to be whine-y, just an observation of how stress can influence normal activity. For me, everything feels a bit lighter than it did in early January. Plus, we’ve been able to schedule our vaccinations!

If you are interested in purchasing or reading more about these paintings you can see them on my website:

In other good new, some art shows are happening in person this Spring. If you are in the Newburyport area this month, I have a small painting in the Winter Show, Heirloom & Antique. Stop by and be inspired by art again.

As always, thank you for reading my newsletter and feel free to share with anyone who might be interested. 

Take care. Stay safe. Be kind. Be creative!

No comments:

Post a Comment

I'd love to hear from you!