An artist's journal.
Here you'll find my paintings and musings, where the featured subjects could likely cover just about anything.
The last 4+ years I've been caring for my best buddy B during his courageous fight to live through cancer and it's complications. I'm tickled to report, he's getting better and I'm finding small bits of painting time again.

Looking forward to a daily celebration of life's gifts by using the brightest, happiest colors in the box!

Visitors looking for 'B's Journey', click here.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

It's been a long time.

Sunflower revisited 2013
20" x 24"
Oil over Acrylic on canvas

Hello friends.

Perhaps you're a new visitor here or an old friend. Either one, I'd like to thank you for stopping in today.

Old friends will know that this Artblog of mine has been static for quite some time now. Two years ago, I became the full time caregiver for my precious husband Brian.

His cancer returned in March 2011 and the treatments and complications that arose, necessitated huge changes in my life. My mission was to try to save his life. Anything I could do to help, anything at all, I would happily do to keep this wonderful human with me for as long as possible.

That meant hanging up my paintbrushes these last 2 years as I've stood beside him in his fight for life.

And now, after a Bone Marrow Transplant on February 13th of this year, I am happy to report he's on the mend. And while, he's not 100%, he's getting better. And he doesn't need my constant care anymore.

Which brings me to today.
And this post. And this latest painting.

Brian still needs my care, but not nearly as much. Yet, with some free time to finally get my paintbrushes wet again, I was having trouble getting back in my studio. I found myself befuddled and fearful as to how or where I should start.

How was I to go about rediscovering myself as an painter, and finding a balance between caregiver and artist?

I simply couldn't seem to get started.

For the first year or so that I was away, I still 'thought' like an painter. Daily, I saw inspiration for paintings all around me, everywhere I looked. And, I'd have a good idea of just exactly how I'd translate those inspirations to canvas.

But, as Brian became more ill, and life became heavier, I started losing that painter's vision, and gradually the inspirations and hands-on knowledge of my medium faded.

You fellow artists know what I'm talking about when I say we see every little thing in the world through painters eyes. We see the way light plays with ordinary things, we see the magic in shapes and colors, the abstract of light and dark. It's a wonderful way to view the world. And we usually have a good idea of how we'd translate those visions into art through the medium of our choice. In the past, for me, that's been acrylic paint. I understood that silly, fast drying, paint. I understood my brushes. I knew how to get the look I wanted instinctively with these tools.

But now, after 2 years away, I was feeling a lot like a beginning painter again. I hadn't a clue if I could even still paint. I felt like I had forgotten how.

This scared me.

I mean, who knows, after such a long time gone, how that first painting would turn out?

And what did I want to paint?

Art is emotion and emotionally I am definitely not the same person I was 28 months ago. Cancer and nearly losing my Brian (several times) have changed the way I view the world. No way around that.

In the past, despite dark childhood baggage (the kind that some artists would use to fuel dark, introspective paintings), I've mostly leaned towards painting cheerful stuff.  
And, despite the toughness of these last 28 months, I'm pleased to find I still want to paint happy things.  If anything, I now want even more whimsy, more color, more life, more happy in my paintings.

So, I knew I wanted to paint something bright and colorful, but what would that be? Would I perhaps finish a previous work-in-progress that's been waiting patiently or would I begin with a new, start-from-scratch, fresh clean canvas?

Should it be big? or small? Abstract or realism? Pure whimsy or contemporary? And how about maybe trying oils now? The possibilities were endless, I just needed to face my fears and start.

And, while my fear that I'd lost my mojo was playing a big part in me not getting started, my biggest fear, was leaving Brian alone. It was downright paralyzing.

My studio is somewhat isolated from our main living area. And from past experience I know, when painting, I become completely absorbed in the process, unaware of time passing or things around me.
So, fear I'd get lost in a painting and perhaps not be aware if Brian suddenly needed me, continually wreaked havoc on me starting. I'd walk into my studio, then turn around and walk right back out so I could check on Brian. After being by his side non-stop for 28 months, I was finding it almost impossible to let go, paint, and have faith that he'd be fine.

So there I was. Befuddled. Fearful.

Ready to paint, but not painting.

Then it occurred to me, use your Artblog, silly. Launched in 2008, this blog is an old friend.

Before Brian became unwell, I'd artblogged regularly and loved sharing my painting adventures here.
So, I decided to brush the cobwebs off my static Artblog and use it as the catalyst to help me get started again. To get me painting again, to show me I can find the balance.

I can be a painter, and a caregiver.

I just have to start.

So, I set a goal, to get me off my fearful, befuddled duff and start painting again.
Ten days ago, I posted the following note at the top of my blog:

June 19, 2013-
After more than two years away, helping my hubby through Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, Myelodysplastic Syndrome and a Bone Marrow Transplant, I am full of questions. 

Can I still even paint? 
How has this incredibly emotional experience changed me, both as an artist and a human being? 
I know I'm changed, but have I lost, or have I've gained sight?
As my husband's health slowly improves, it's time I find out.
Using this Artblog as a catalyst to kickstart my painting again, I've set my first goal.
Post a new painting here before the end of June.
Can I do it? Can I find a balance between caregiver and artist? 11 days will tell.
Baby steps.

As this self imposed deadline rapidly approached, I was finally able to put together a few hours of studio time here and there these last few days and made the deadline.
It was a good exercise. Without this goal, I probably would still not have started.
Now, I can't wait to paint again!

No, I didn't start this painting from scratch, but I did put wet paintbrushes on canvas, and that was a huge step forward.
I'd been curious for quite some time about using oil paints over an acrylic under-painting, but hadn't gotten around to trying it before B got sick and I had to put my paintbrushes away.
Not feeling very confident with my rustiness and a new medium (oil), I decided to rework an old sunflower painting I'd originally painted in 2009, one that I'd never really liked. I figured if I messed it up big time with my oil painting experiment, no worries.

Below is a photo of the way the 2009 acrylic painting used to look, and how it looks now with oil paint applied in areas over the old acrylic paint. I'm okay with the reworked sunflower painting now. It's colors are more subtle, and it's not as garish as it was, but it's still not on my list of favorites. Although, I do like it better than before.

After this first attempt at oil painting, the jury remains out on me using oil paints on any surface, much less an acrylic one. (Holy guacamole, this stuff is wet and messy and I'm not fond of the clean up, which requires strong smelling solvents).

It was an interesting, and somewhat amusing experiment. 

I had oil paint all over me because I kept forgetting it was wet. Then I'd have to use the odorless solvent (odorless? not!) to clean up. 
It was really quite comical. I had paint everywhere.

There were some things I really liked about the oils.  And I'm not giving up on them. 

But before I embark on any more oil painting experiments, my next few projects, as I try to regain comfort at the easel, will be done solely with acrylics, my truly odorless, water based old buddies!
Hopefully using a familiar medium will help me find my painting mojo again.

Btw, Brian was fine. I found small ways to keep in touch with him hourly so I wouldn't be so worried. Timers, monitors and such, gave me just enough connection to him to let me relax and get lost in painting for a few hours at a time.

And he was delighted I am finally back spending some time doing what I love. 

1 comment:

cinderkeys said...

It's great that you're painting again! I know what you mean about losing the painter's vision. It works that way for songwriting too. Probably for anything artistic. Before you create, you have to have the part of your brain turned on that thinks, "Can I make something from that?"

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"There are days when I feel I could've painted the Sistine Chapel and, then, there are the days when I'm not sure I could trace a stick figure.... the only difference between these days is my state of mind"~ Jenna Millward Corkill