After completing the Artist’s Way Workshop led by Joyce Hogue at A.Wickey Gallery, I think I need to start over and really read every word of every chapter of the book. There were so many times I would read something and think, Oh, yeah, that’s not really about me or my life, when really there is a lot more truth than I was comfortable admitting, descriptions of ways that I sabotage efforts to create art. Most especially I realized that I am not exactly being truthful when I say I don’t have time to do my art. I took a good look at how I spend my time, and I noticed that I seem to be able to take off on a 5- or 10-day adventure at the drop of a hat, so it is absolutely untrue that I do not have time — it’s merely that I have not been scheduling time for my art.
So this-coming year, I resolve to expand my definition of myself, this time as an artist, as well as an adventurer. Oh, I’ve been calling myself an artist my whole life, but when I am honest, I realize that time-after-time-after-time, I have resisted when it comes to actually producing art. Sometimes it is the inertia of couch-sitting that holds me back, sometimes it is thrill of unknown adventure that I would rather do, sometimes it is the attraction of friendship and companionship, and sometimes the aggravation of bills or work commitments, but I am realizing that just about any excuse not to produce art has resulted in greatly limiting my artistic output. If I really want for my dream of being a full-time artist to come true, I will need to quit ignoring the call of the paint and to start producing finished works.
At the very least, I will have an additional 3 hours of empty time every week, when I have been attending the 12 sessions of the Artist’s Way Workshop. Last week one of the participants hosted a party for us all, at her house. Our assignment was to make a small gift using a quote form the Artist’s Way book. I made and framed a 3×3″ watercolor of an orange, above right, with the quote that “sometimes we shake the apple tree, and the universe delivers oranges.” This quote is significant to me, in that so many times in my life, I may have had a wish, a dream, or set an intention, and events come to pass which meet and exceed that intention in ways very different from how I had imagined.
I missed class the week before, while I was in Mexico at a retreat called Laguna de Siete Colores, named for Laguna Bacalar, in the southern Yucatan. I was there to shoot promotional photography for The Stand Up Paddle Radio Show and for Undertoe Mexico Stand Up Paddleboards, the producers of the retreat. The paintings at left are all oil on canvas panel, and this series is from the sunrise at Tulum, our first morning in Mexico. Sunrise is always inspirational, and the colors are so warm and bright in the first hour after sunrise, the “golden hour.” I plan to paint many more from this adventure in Mexico.
My present intention is to review and refresh my skills with painting, since I have only just begun oil painting late this year, after about 30 years of making drawings and watercolor paintings. My goal is to join up with the local group of plein air painters, who paint every Wednesday morning. I am limiting my work on these practice paintings to only 2 hours at most, so that I develop a faster and looser style of painting, which is more practical for plein air painting, due to rapidly changing light and weather conditions.
I have found that my brushes are pretty sad, so I have ordered 4 new ones, and also a new tube of titanium white,and new oil painting medium to make my paints more workable and to help them all dry more quickly and with the same degree of gloss. I’m still pretty stingy with the paint, not mixing big enough batches of each color, which is forcing me to remember which tubes I used and in what quantities in order to get each color. So far the color mixing has come back to me fairly easily, and I very much appreciate the fact that oil paints dry pretty close to the same color that I mix, as opposed to watercolor paints, which always dry more muted and lighter in value than when they are wet.
I usually post photos of my paintings on Facebook on my Joan Vienot Art page as soon as I finish them. The tern painting was very popular, selling the same day I posted it. Contact me if you are interested in any of my paintings. Since they largely are practice pieces, I am maintaining reasonable pricing.
Around one month ago, the Artist’s Way workshop assignment was to open a book, and select a two-word phrase, and make a piece of art out of it, or write a poem, or whatever mode of expression we chose. When George Harrison did this, he wrote the song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” after seeing the phrase “gently weeps” in the first random book he picked up. I didn’t actually open the first book I picked up, but instead selected the title of a Nancy Drew mystery, The Whispering Statue. I selected for my inspiration a piece of concrete yard art in my own yard, a gift from a dear friend, a statue of St. Francis of Assisi. Below is the progression of the painting. The statue stands next to my birdbath. Click on any of the images for a larger view.
Most of my images are available for purchase. Contact me if you are interested. — Joan Vienot