Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Trusting instincts

A Marilyn Moment
Original oil painting  28x22"
by Susan Roux

Painting is unusual. Most things, do them long enough and you almost become an expert.  I know this like the back of my hand. Sometimes you feel you could even do them with your eyes closed.

Not true with painting.

It seems no matter how long you paint, or how good you get at it, there are always those pesky paintings that give you a run for your money. For some unknown reason they just won't come together. It's like back paddling, never pushing you forward. You begin to feel like you're just moving paint around. Colors that were once alive, dull. The more you layer, the worse it gets. At some point you might even consider wiping down the entire canvas. It's how I felt yesterday while toiling on this painting.


Frustration can be your friend. Seriously. It doesn't feel like it at the time, but when you get to the point where you're ready to just trash the entire canvas, freedom and spontaneity take over. The big brushes come out. There's fearlessness pumping through your veins. That "I don't give a care" attitude can propel quantities of emotion onto your canvas. With big bold strokes, you find yourself hacking into your work. Where you once delicately painted detail, you now obliterate with a single stroke. Oddly it seems to be better. Either that or you just feel better unleashing. The painting takes an unexpected turn. A clearer direction, perhaps a new direction announces itself.

Often a new day and fresh eyes help. You might even put off going into the studio. After all you're expecting to see a terrible mess, but it usually isn't as bad as you remembered. Those bold strokes of late yesterday seem to compliment. That's when you know your gut took over. There's an empowering drive in trusting your instincts. It's comforting to see your instincts didn't fail you.  Even through bad days behind the easel, the creative you persevered. There's wonderful energy in that. Part of you suddenly becomes reassured.

When the going gets tough the tough get going. Kevin Mizner recently posted about keep on working especially when everything is going wrong. He never brings it full circle to connect with the painting process, but it's implied.

Where do you land on this? How long do you work a painting? Do you try to salvage or does it get dumped as soon as it begins to go awry?

Are you trusting your instincts?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Linda Blondheim

Lupines in the Sky
Original oil painting  10x30"
by Susan Roux

I stumbled upon a little gem this morning...

Did I ever mention I live in the woods? It isn't hard to do when you live in rural Maine. Trees grow here like weeds. Even after they've been cut down, the stubborn stumps rebel by sending up five new trees in its place. Keeping the woods from swallowing up the whole property is nearly a full time job. I'm cutting and pruning and fighting them back all the time and they're still winning. What was once a sunny front yard has become a shady haven. My suffering perennial gardens haven't liked the transition very much.

As much as I complain about my growing shade, I love the woods. I always have. There's something so peaceful about it. I love the smells, the sounds and the look of sunlight filtering in. I live in a world that is absolutely green. Well at least in the warmer months... The forest is so thick with underbrush you can't see very far in. After the leaves drop, a new view deep into the rolling terrain is revealed. In winter the sun lights up the white blanket we call snow, illuminating the woods, allowing me to see into it the furthest. My world is far brighter during the winter months than it is in the shade of summer.

It's very different having surroundings that are constantly changing to seeing the same neighbors house across the street. I find it inspiring. I feel immersed in nature. I feel protected.

I know I'm not alone in my love for trees.

My neighbor's getting married next month and having a large outdoor reception. She's labeled the tables, not with numbers, but with different varieties of trees. How cool is that?

Today I found a blogger who's love for trees dips into the realm of passion. Not only does she paint trees, she also keeps a tree scrapbook. She calls it her Tree Journal. Just the title makes me think she adds to it regularly. Tidbits of bark, leaves and twigs. It's part of her reference material. Such a tactile experience...

She isn't just observing the trees, she's really connected to them.

And it shows in her work.

These are just a sampling of the lovely work you'll find on her blog. I know you haven't been there yet because I'm her first follower. Do yourself a favor and go introduce yourself to Linda Blondheim, the wonderful Tree Painter.

On a sadder note. It's hard to talk about trees and not think of the burning fires in Texas. My heart goes out to all those effected. Let's pray the firefighters can gain control over them soon.

The painting posted, Lupines in the Sky, was shown in progress on an earlier post.