I was feeling a little down the other day realizing it’s already June & I have hardly any new work to show for this year. I haven’t listed any new paintings for sale (though I have several) & it left me wondering where the time has gone.
So far, this has been a year of experimenting & growing. Unfortunately, most of those experiments didn’t produce the incredible new series of paintings or products I was hoping for, but I feel like I’m finally close to it. I’m super excited about everything I’ve been playing with & it now feels like I’m putting together all the right pieces. But it took me a while to get here!
The thing nobody tells you about making your living as an artist is that your creative breakthroughs don’t always come when you want them to. I can’t imagine how fashion designers put out multiple new collections every year. At the end of the season, those garments are sent back, maybe ending up heavily discounted at an outlet mall, crammed onto a rack with a bunch of other unloved dresses just inches away from slipping from their hangers & being trampled on the dusty floor. They’re on to the next thing & that pressure must be immense.
I started this year experimenting with watercolors. I’m finding myself drawn to looser, more abstract work with flowing colors. My painting style tends to be very tight & controlled, so I thought playing with a medium like watercolors would be a good exercise for me. I have to fight my instinct to paint with lots of layers & to rework the same areas. While that’s been great for my practice, I didn’t have the amazing breakthrough I was sure I’d have. It turns out that becoming a great watercolor artist takes time. Who knew?!
In the total opposite category of soft, painterly work, I’ve also started practicing hand-lettering. I’m a sucker for good packaging. Anything old or antique, objects that have a history when you touch them light me up & they tend to have awesome lettering & typography.
Along with my experimenting, I wanted to create some kind of daily practice to improve my art skills on days when I don’t have time to make it into the studio. I tote my sketchbook around with me all the time, but it’s filled with loose ideas that need to be cleaned up. Without reference photos, there’s no point in finishing the details of a sketch of a deer when I’m not sure I can recall from memory exactly what deer legs look like. (hint – they’re super weird.)
And so – hand-lettering! It fine tunes my hand-eye coordination, gets my pencils & pens moving plus is easy to do anywhere. Yesterday I worked on the hand-lettering art piece below. Next up? Add a watercolor background.
Which I’m just realizing I probably should have done FIRST so the ink doesn’t bleed. Whoops!
While the stacks of watercolor masterpieces I was sure would be gracing gallery walls have not materialized yet, I did have a breakthrough. I love layers. I don’t want to give up my layered imagery. So I’ve been experimenting with ways to combine all of the things I love & though I haven’t totally cracked it, I know I’m close. And I’m feeling that creative passion so strongly it feels like my chest is on fire. There’s a clear picture of what I want to make & I just need to figure out what materials I can use to put it together in way that is archival & non-toxic. Or less toxic.
Now I just need to pray it will all come together in time for my big summer shows!
Check my Events & Exhibitions page to find out where you can see me around Vancouver this summer.