Life came to a screeching halt last winter with a frightening medical diagnosis, followed by surgery and a complicated recovery (but I am recovered, thank you). Picking up all the pieces of a very full life — and figuring out which ones to put back down again — has been a bigger education than I counted on. Check out my still life and plein air portfolios for what I’ve been up to artistically; apparently, when my mind is preoccupied by Big Things, working from observation is both possible and calming.
But here I am, out the other side. And finally, I’ve come up with a schedule that, for the next few months anyway, gives me time to spend simply inhabiting my studio, contemplating the work of the last couple of years and figuring out where the strengths lie in it. Oh, and I cleaned up. Rearranged the furniture. Shook the literal and metaphorical dust off.
And I looked, and looked, and looked, and began to understand why working only from observation isn’t, ultimately, sustaining; and why I was so dissatisfied with the painting I had been struggling with through most of February, even though the colour was joyful and the paint handling lush. I wrote a new artist’s statement, a manifesto of sorts: look what this paint can do, what it can shape itself into. Look what beauty my brush finds when I consider all my senses.
Then it snowed, and the landscape clarified itself into this pattern next to that pattern next to white. Space to breathe. I broke with my usual one-at-a-time practice and started six paintings. Four of them think they are complete. One after the next, they become more coherent.