Back in December 2019, the gallery owner of G44 Gallery, Colorado Springs, surprised me with an invitation to have a solo show in 2021. Not only was I honored and excited, but I also had a strong visceral reaction of “Yes! That will be perfect timing.” Ha! Little did any of us know what the future had in store for us.
How did I begin creating for this upcoming solo show?
At the time of the invitation, I had just begun experimenting with a new medium — cold wax with oil — followed by an excellent cold wax workshop taught by Tish Lacy Reed in January. Subsequently, I dove in with great gusto. At this point – about the Feb/March time frame – I wasn’t thinking about a series or my show, I was dedicated to learning about cold wax with oil.
During my 30+ years of painting, I have worked in watercolor, pencil, oil, pastel and acrylics, and in that sequence. During each medium, I focused on just that one medium. In other words, I have never jumped from one to the other and back. Why? Because I wanted to get to know the medium as well as I could and enjoy all of its characteristics. My subject matter also evolved along with these medium changes.
It is easy to think that learning a new medium is not big deal. NOT! Each time I began I new one, I thought I could make the switch quickly and each time I have been humbled. Therefore, I entered the cold wax with oil world with reverence and patience. Having many years of painting experience does give me an advantage, because they do build upon each other, but the work and experimentation still needs to be done…at least for me. For example, I had to learn how to use an entirely different set of tools (see photo above), had to wear gloves because I was working in oils, adjust to the different drying timing, and the layering process is unique.
Then our lives changed abruptly in March. I was grateful, and still am, that I had my show to work toward. Many creatives stopped creating, but I did not. Surely there were many days when I did not have the motivation to paint, but for the most part, I kept my train moving. Painting grounds me and helps to keep me sane. Even if I had not had a show to paint for, I believe I would have kept going. In a sense, I created my own reality within my home studio, of which I feel fortunate.
What were my next steps in creating a solo show?
Once the medium started to make sense to me and I started to comprehend the possibilities, I began journaling about the show. The main question was “What are my intentions with this show?” Along with: What did I want to say and how? Over the years, I have learned the power of writing in a journal. It’s an effective way to download all the ideas swarming around in my head. In addition, clarification begins to take place. BTW, I journaled many times throughout this past year. It has become a part of my creative process. It is similar to sketching with words.
My painting intentions are/were to create:
- color harmony
- a sense of depth
- a sense of mystery
- viewer engagement
- the message that differences enhance each other
In the May time frame, I began to feel my 2021 impending deadline, and told myself to start deciding on my theme. Because the forest has played an important role throughout my life (you are welcome to read my artist statement to learn more), I had decided this would be the thread that would connect the work. My journaling had made this quite clear. I loved scraping off layers of paint to discover what was underneath as I created my abstract forests. It was always a surprise.
Through much of June and July, trees were my focus. Then the music stopped. I discovered that I was forcing myself. Even though I liked several of my enchanted forests, my well had run dry and I wasn’t enjoying my process nor the end result. Another important factor emerged. I realized I had too many intentions and that I was asking too much of myself. So I let-go of my trees!
Here are a couple of examples of my first tree paintings. The one on the left is 20×20 and the one on the right is 24×18. Click on the images to see them more closely, particularly the texture I created by scraping off layers of paint.
Though I was a tad disappointed, I was relieved. I decided that trees would be with me forever and that they would show up in my work spontaneously or as they saw fit. Now I could focus on my intentions without adding a particular subject matter to it. However, color would take the front seats or be my most significant driver in creating abstracts. I envisioned a gallery space that would invite people to experience color along with its beauty, mystery and complexities. Now I needed to determine how I was going to achieve this objective.
Meanwhile, I had been asked this question frequently, “How many paintings will you need for your show?” Interestingly, I chose to ignore this question because it felt too limiting to me. Having a number in my head was not helpful. I knew the space I had available, but quantity and sizes were not of interest to me.
One thing that did haunt me was, “What will the show title be?” I wanted it to be catchy and at the same time, reflect that work I intended to show. It took several months for the title – Colorscapes – to come forth and then I needed to keep it to myself for awhile to feel comfortable with it.
It evolved from observations I was making as I stepped back to look at my work. A horizontal line seemed to be appearing. This gave the impression of a landscape. Eventually I put landscape together with color! It was a light bulb and fun moment when I came up with Colorscapes!
All was humming along nicely, until August 18, 2021, when I was blindsided with a medical diagnosis that has altered the course of my life.
To be continued in: How Did I Create a Solo Show During My Health Crisis: Part Two. No link available at this time.
Gratefully and colorfully yours,
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