Yesterday, I found a quotation that made me feel much better:
“I’m in a foul mood as I’m making stupid mistakes… This morning I lost beyond repair a painting with which I had been happy, having done about twenty sessions on it; it had to be thoroughly scraped away… what a rage I was in!”
That’s from Claude Monet, one of the greatest artists of all time. Realizing that even he had to deal with frustration over stupid mistakes… that helped me close the door on my recent difficulties with a painting.
I looked at what’s been going on and remembered that paintings usually take me weeks… two or three months at the most, for an especially challenging (or large) piece. Anything that takes longer… something else is going on.
And, with that, the skies cleared and I felt much better… not so stalled as an artist.
This morning, I looked out the window and the sunrise was inspiring. The view faces west, so it’s a reflection of the sunrise.
And, after thinking about it for a few minutes, I grabbed my palette and a canvas, and did a quick oil sketch. That’s it at the top of this post.
It took me about 15 or 20 minutes to lay down the color. Then, though I wasn’t entirely pleased with it, I knew that it was time to stop.
There’s always a tricky balance between taking a painting almost far enough, and going too far. The latter involves scrubbing off the paint, or waiting for it to dry to paint over it.
It’s rare to hit that “perfect” point, the same as it’s rare for a baseball player to pitch a no-hitter.
The canvas is 10″ x 14″ and I hadn’t underpainted it with cadmium red, though I usually do that.
The scene is outside my NH living room, looking towards a tree-covered hill. We still have a lot of snow, and — except for the evergreens — the trees are still fairly stark and grey. The warmish colors come from the pinks, oranges and yellows of the sunrise.
It’s been years since I was painting morning sunrises.
Spontaneously picking up the paintbrush again… this is a good sign.