Fear has been reaching out for me lately. While I believe that good wins out in the end—there are days when I struggle to stay hopeful. And then I found a pocket of hope in an unexpected place, a roll of paper towels.
I’m trying to cut back on paper towel usage—the environment, you know. But I haven’t been able to go cold turkey. So I picked up a three-pack of the cheapest towels on the shelf. Each role had a design. I can’t remember what was on roll one except for the fact that it was pink and baby blue. Not my colors. Roll two had butterflies. Who doesn’t like butterflies? Roll three was special. There was a message running over the first two squares. This is what it said: “Each MORNING is an Opportunity to SHINE, a CHANCE to give the past a KICK in the pants, and the future a BEAR HUG.”
Sometimes I find meaning in the strangest places. I remember the paper towel message every morning when I sign a petition to honor freedom of speech and religion, make a phone call to protect the environment, or send a letter to the little girl I sponsor in Rwanda. I think of it now and then on my way to work where I teach young children with special needs. I’m helping them give their future a bear hug. I just need a reminder now and then that what I do matters.
But wait! There was a second message on that roll of paper towels. The second message said: “Love BIG, play HARD and eat DESSERT. Savor the simple things and DON’T WORRY about the rest. CHOOSE today to be AMAZING.”
Worry is not proactive. It weights us down. Even in the midst of great challenges, it’s OK to play and eat dessert. It’s the moments of fun that rest our minds and feed our souls. All work and no play wears us down. So I dance. I spend time with good friends and supportive family. And I continue to hope. I hope for a future that works for everyone. As Tiny Tim once said, “God bless us, every one.”
Anatomy Of A Painting
I posted recently that I was working on a new painting and worried that it wouldn’t be finished in time for the upcoming art reception at the Cloverdale Arts Alliance Gallery. Well, I got it done, but lost a lot of sleep doing it.
People often ask me. “How long did it take you to paint that?” Or they want to know something about the process. So, here’s how this particular piece came together. Keep in mind that every piece is different, and my process is not necessarily typical. Every artist has his or her own approach. Here’s mine.
Day 1—Roughing in the subject
First, I painted in the background. I use acrylic paint. A discussion of acrylic versus oil may be a subject for a future blog. I always start with Indian Yellow. It gives a nice underglow. Next, I sketched in the subject. I don’t always start with a drawing, but this is a portrait of my granddaughter, Elise. When I’m doing a portrait, I want to make sure that the proportions are correct and everything is right where I want it. So I draw.
Day 2—Face first
I don’t always start with the face, In fact, I usually start with the background. I enjoy figure drawing most and tend to save the best for last. But I wanted some assurance that this painting would bear a resemblance to my granddaughter. If I didn’t get that reassurance would i have quit? Probably not. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again…
Day 3—Move back
At this point I moved to the background and starting roughing in the color, simulating wood grain in the flooring, painting the carpet background, and placing a design on the curtain in the back. I worked on the walls as well. The background colors are very close, but there had to be differentiation. I found this stage to be a bit tedious. It doesn’t look like a lot happened here, but many more hours went into this phase. I’m going to keep an actual count of work hours on the next painting.
Day 4—More background detail
Longing to get to the figure, but I wanted to keep working on that background. Since Elise is placed in the actual environment where I snapped her photo, I wanted it to be accurate. Elise loves to get out all my hats when she visits and model them before the wall of mirrors in my room. I’m painting what will one day be her memory. Keep going…
Day 5—Rough in the figure
At last, I’m on to the figure! That pink hat is Elise’s favorite. It’s also the one I wore to the women’s march. It gets around. By now the painting has a title, The Pink Hat. I gave Elise the dress she’s wearing in the painting. It actually has a western theme. Goes with the hat…
Day 6—Details details
There are two figures here, Elise and Elise’s reflection. The mirror element is a challenge. I started the dress pattern at this stage. The dress has horses on it. I needed to just suggest them. If I covered the dress with realistic little horses people would tend to focus on them, not the painting as a whole. I’m not happy with the face but I still have time. It was a work day so I started painting after dinner. I painted until 3 AM with a raging storm in the background. Another work day tomorrow. Tired!
Day 7—Almost done
After staying up late the previous night and working all day, I had a hard time dragging myself back to the studio. Lack of sleep sapped all my energy. I just sat on the couch and dozed in front of the TV when I should have been painting. Getting up was REALLY hard, but I knew I had to in order to be ready for the show. I finally entered the studio at 11 PM and painted until 5 AM. It’s hanging day at the gallery. Finish!
Day 8—Close-up & done (maybe)
Got up at 7 AM—not much sleep—and painted finishing touches until 10. So much for sleep, or lack of. Not sure the photo shows the actual color palate accurately, but you get the idea. I’m still not totally happy with the painting, but I’m my own worst critic. I’ll probably do a bit more work in the future. In the meantime, you can see the painting at the Cloverdale Gallery.