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An Ideal Day

Oil Painting of Pelican on Providenciales

I have set a goal this year, to make a transition in my life, to live at least two days a week as an artist by the end of this year.  It may happen lot sooner than that.  It all started when I decided to hold myself accountable for not yet having made the leap.  Frankly, I’ve been fearful that I would not be able to support myself with my art, a legitimate concern up until this point, since I have been sporadic in my production of art.  To support my fear, I have used every excuse not to be more prolific, or in many cases, to go days without sketching or painting.  My most frequent excuse is that I do not have time.  Guess what — I do have time — I’ve been less than truthful with myself.  I simply have chosen to use my time for other purposes, instead of for producing art.

I hired a coach, to give me suggestions and feedback for making progress towards my goal.  One of the things she asked me, was what an ideal day would be like for me. I described waking up rested, taking some time for meditation and then working out or paddling or doing some other fitness-oriented activity, followed by a visit to a gallery or some other “artist-date”, and then painting all afternoon, probably plein air painting, followed by a cultural event in the evening, perhaps a play or dance theater or a musical performance.  But then I thought to myself, about a week later, that if I had described that as my ideal day, then why had I not ever had an ideal day, and I realized then and there that I was lying to myself, because I have had unscheduled days before, but have not ever done all the things that would make up an ideal day.

So when one of my best friends called last week and asked another friend and me over for breakfast on Sunday, and I declined because I had other tentative plans, I instead invited her over to my art studio on Saturday because I intended to paint.  She is a writer, so I asked her to bring her paper so she could write while I painted.  She offered to bring breakfast.  Meanwhile, Saturday brought incredibly bad weather with it, and another friend decided to cancel a trip to see a client, and instead came over to my house to wait out the rain and to work on a drawing she was making.  So the morning found the three of us in my studio, painting and talking and solving the world’s problems.  I made a small painting of some young bananas growing on a tree that I had photographed on North Caicos a few weeks ago.  At left is the sequence of development.

I cannot describe the creative spirit that filled the studio while we talked and worked.  I was in awe of the circumstances that brought us all together, and the energy of the dynamics.  Both friends left around midday, and I took another half-hour or so to finish my painting, before going upstairs to get my house ready for the evening activity.  I had invited 6 friends to participate in “The Art of Seeing” class which Ponce de Leon, FL, artist Mary Moses teaches through her gallery, HRMagoo.  I still needed to trim the legs on 3 of my stools so everyone would be comfortable at my art table, and I needed to go to the deli to pick up the supper wraps I would be serving.

Mary brought a friend with her, guitarist/artist/singer/songwriter Sharon Johnson, who played her guitar and sang while the rest of us learned the Art of Seeing.  Mary demonstrated, toning a plywood board with charcoal and then showing us how she picked out shapes and faces from the patterns in the wood grain, and then developed them.  We all dove in, everyone in the group helping each other “find” shapes in their panels, with a good amount of laughter, all inspired, often awed, always positive, and occasionally raunchy, and all in all, a lot of fun.  The time flew, and we all had a great time.

I think I probably could continue to work on my panel, but I am surprised and happy with what I did so I may just call it finished as is.  It is not at all like any art I have ever made before, and it is uniquely my own, in that I drew the shapes and faces that for the most part I alone saw, and in my own way, without pre-planning the composition.  I found a number of faces on my panel, including a few aliens and a horse and two elephants and a covey of birds.  I assign significance and meaning to it which no doubt would alarm my some of my friends and family and perhaps cause them to look askance at me, so I’ll leave that unexplained for now, and settle for letting you do the interpreting and drawing your own meaning from it.  It is below left.

I would say that this day qualified as an ideal day.

I painted the pelican, below right, a couple of days later, using a reference photo from my vacation on Providenciales in January.

Most of my images are available for purchase.  Contact me if you are interested. — Joan Vienot

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Figure Drawing: The Power of the Group, Chakra Work, Music and Communication

“Reclining Arched Back” is available from my site! Click the painting for information on adding it to your collection.

“Standing” is available in my store. Click the painting and to purchase for your collection now!

Last week I didn’t draw, except for my practice at home.  Instead I watched and listened to a lot of live music at the 30A Songwriters Festival, which I blogged about in my last post.  And last Friday I attended a yoga presentation on the Root Chakra, the first in a 7-week series, a subject which is all new to me.  Then on Tuesday a friend and I got together and brought each other up to date, all good.  And Wednesday, a whole bunch of artists I hadn’t seen for a while were at figure drawing, at the regular weekly session at Studio b., which was exhilarating.

So whether a positive result of my fledgling efforts to allow more energy to flow through the Root Chakra, or good old-fashioned open communication with a dear friend, or listening to so much good music, I felt very confident in my artistic expression this week.  I found myself very quickly lost in the process of executing each pose.  When I lose myself is when I enjoy it the most and feel the most successful at capturing what to me is the basic emotive and visual essence of the pose, whether I am focused on the light, or mass, or shapes, texture, or line.

Our model struggled with the standing pose at top left.  Supporting herself on one leg with a locked knee, she wasn’t able to hold it for as long as she had intended.  Nevertheless, even with the pose a little shorter than expected, I felt completely comfortable with the end result, leaving portions of the drawing a little sketchy.  In fact I think I am enjoying that more and more, developing only the more important area of each pose, although I need to be careful not to always leave the feet undeveloped, because that might be suspected laziness.  Feet are difficult to draw.

The drawing at upper right is the only drawing I was unsure about, when I was finished, because her right elbow creates a triangular shape above the woman’s throat.  Effective composition  requires the artist to be judicious, to leave out visual description which merely confuses.  So I worked on this drawing when I got home, removing the elbow shape entirely, and then drawing it back in.  Sometimes it is that little quirk of confusion that requires the viewer to puzzle for a moment, and engage a bit more, holding his attention for a bit longer.  And in this day and age of instant communication, holding someone’s attention is like gold to an artist.

Speaking of attention, to those of you who wade through my blogs each week, from the bottom of my heart, thank you!  You don’t even have to say anything, though I love it if you do — I feed off your collective support.  May we all give support to each other for our efforts at creative expression, whatever the avenue!

Most of my images are available for purchase.  Contact me if you are interested. — Joan Vienot