Sunday, February 27, 2011

quantum leap

Sometimes in art you paint for a while, and then suddenly you have a growth spurt.  A time when all of a sudden you are soaking up what you are learning like a sponge.  There have been times in my artist life like that.  I feel that I am going nowhere creatively, and then suddenly I see something, read something, or look at someone else's art and wham! I am off and running in a new direction, my muse on fire.

I always worked in oils, never in any other paint medium.  Then I spent several years when I didn't paint in oils because I was busy raising babies, and just didn't have the time or energy to keep them out of my paints.  I tried once or twice, and I remember cleaning oil paints off of Jim's little fingers (he was a toddler), and so my artistic bent went in other directions.  I taught myself needlepoint, crochet, knitting, shadow embroidery, smocking, and many other types of hand work.  I could do these and handle my babies without much of a hitch in my daily routine. 

But the muse was always there, simmering under the surface.  Waiting to break free.  My kids grew up, and I did something I always wanted to do but had never mastered.  I taught myself how to paint with watercolors.  It was pretty scary at first, and I made a lot of paintings I destroyed.  But gradually, by practicing, I got the feel of the media and eventually became comfortable enough to show some of my work to family and friends.
I found that even though painting in watercolors is something you have less control over, it sometimes it takes a serendipitous turn.  My watercolors tend to be small paintings, because it is something I like to be able to sit and hold in my lap as I paint, so I can pause and think about where I want to take the next step. 

That was the first quantum leap I took in painting as an adult.  The second leap was when we started the Treasures studio.  I had never liked acrylic paints, not even in high school.  They dried too fast, I didn't like the way the colors mixed, and they just annoyed me.  But in order to provide an experience in the studio for people taking classes, we had to offer the paintings in acrylic.  And though I had a rough start, I gradually got the hang of the feel of acrylics.  And found I liked them. I could layer the paint up and add details quickly, without waiting for each layer to dry.

This was my second painting in acrylic.  I thought it turned out colorful, but wasn't sure I knew what I was doing.  Heck, I KNEW I didn't know what I was doing.  How was I going to teach classes when I didn't even know how to do a painting in acrylic myself? 

But I kept on, and practiced, and gessoed over some really weird looking paintings, until I realized I was evolving.  Not only was I interpreting master works for the classes, but I was doing some original art of my own. 

It has been a process of growth, of learning, of quantum leaps of faith and skill.  And I never know when it will happen.  It just does.  But it is something I keep striving for.  Because it is a journey that will never really end, because as long as I put brush to canvas, I will grow. 

And the nicest thing about having this business, and painting in acrylics?  I have seen the same thing happen, over and over, to the people who come to paint.  They have fun, and the ones who visit often, have evolved.  And continue to evolve.  And I am privileged to be witness to this.

It does my heart good, these quantum leaps.  Whether they are mine, or others, it feeds my artist soul.


  1. Those are beautiful! There is something about challenging yourself to learn something new...keeps you young, I think :)

  2. you are right KD, who has time to grow old when there are so many things to learn and do in the world? thanks for the compliment!

  3. I have learned this, too: to embrace challenges and to live outside of what I think I can do.

    Lovely post.

  4. I concur with your comment your Majesty...thank you!

  5. Like all arts and crafts it is a never ending journey. The hardest part is the start but from then on it's so enjoyable. Been a custom shoemaker from 30 years ago, and everyday is a new thing learnt.
    The joy of what you are doing shows in every picture you've posted. There is life in them.

  6. thank you for the comment Jim...I have loved this painting journey, and though I thought I knew most everything I needed to, this business my sister and I are in has taught me to once again step outside the box, and I have discovered new joy...


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