Struggling Through a Painting


Months have slid by since I last wrote. I took on some duties and was absorbed with life stuff. Family stuff. I re-centered and without doing a whole lot of thinking, started painting a lot. Actually finishing paintings! I’ve started a little business, just me and my paintbrush, and I’ve got to tell you, I’ve never felt so good. A few folks have asked for paintings and I’m working on them, struggling through them, wrestling with them.

I turn on the OTT-lite, stare at the painting, turn it upside-down and have a perspective swap, try to decide where I want to begin again, what needs changing, and usually stand there not actually painting for quite a while. Too long. Long enough to actually think of just about anything else I can go and do “real quick” before I can get myself to delve into what is the most challenging and satisfying exercise I have come to love.

I believe the most difficult part of the whole thing is actually picking up the brush and dipping it into the paint after having had a lengthy break. The paint itself is so beautiful, all on its own, that I’m guilty of leaving little incomplete, underdeveloped areas all over the painting, not wanting to disturb it. The problem I have with this is that it seems to prolong the completion. If I can’t get myself to disturb the paint, how will I ever finish the piece? I have to force myself to just do it. Just squeeze the paint out onto the palette, dip my brush in the paint, put it on the panel. It sounds so simple. It is not simple. It is a mental cliff to climb or dark forest to navigate. BUT once I venture out, I find myself rewarded for my struggle. Something takes over and I’m no longer aware of the daunting thought process that keeps me from picking up the brush in the first place. The painting just happens and this feeling washes over me. It’s, what is it? It’s accomplishment or achievement, or the fact that this great feat I placed before myself, is now behind me, and somehow I made it through. Paintings are not just paintings. They are lessons we teach ourselves and maybe for some, or possibly all, enormous triumphs of life.


The meaning behind “Paint Before Death”

What do I want to do? Paint. When do I want to do it? Before I die. It might be tricky afterwards, but then again, who’s to say?

This is important to me because I have just recently figured something out. Up until now I have not known what I want to do with my life or what my purpose is. For some reason lately, things are occurring to me. Like the fact that I have a difficult time looking at something and not imagining myself taking a brush loaded with paint and filling in the light on a person’s face or the dark shadow under the eaves of the house. Everything is illuminated by some sort of light and has a feeling to it. I can’t get away from that.

The other thing is that I think about death frequently. The way it can sneak up on you. I’m so aware of it and therefore anxious to accomplish this one thing, before it is too late. And it is not just one little thing, of course. Becoming an artist, one I can be proud of, is a huge thing. One that I hope encompasses my life, whatever length it may be, and gives it the meaning I’ve been looking for.

A recent revelation has brought me to this

I remember being little and my Mom trying to find something for me to do. It seems that claiming you are bored as a child is not a good thing. To this day, it sticks in my head that if you say you are bored, you are boring. Now, I don’t really believe this. I understand that saying you are bored really just means you don’t know what you should do. There are plenty of options, but you really aren’t quite sure what you feel like doing. In fact, I think the word “bored” should be officially changed to “lazy”. “Mom, I’m lazy!” There, that’s more accurate. This is all beside the point because what I’m really trying to get at is this: One day, back in the 80’s, my Mom handed me some paper and colored pencils and suggested I draw one of my Rainbow Brite dolls. She tells me I said, “I can’t draw that!”, and that she encouraged me to try it anyway. I remember it was mostly purple and that I did a pretty good job recreating the dolls image on my paper with my colored pencils. Mom was impressed and that, too, sticks in my head. This is my first memory of trying to be artistic and I’m pretty happy about it. I’m happy I remember this (with Mom’s help of course).

Painting and I have been seeing each other on and off since high school. I must admit, I’ve taken it for granted most of my life. I was never really committed. I dabbled here and there and always strayed. Painting is a relationship for me. And I am only now old enough to realize it is time to settle down and give it the time and respect it deserves.  I have decided I want to be an artist before I die. A committed beginner in search of growth. I want to squeeze the time out of a hectic day to paint. I want to learn an incredible amount about painting, about myself, and I want to see it’s effect on my artwork .  This blog is going to help me. And possibly help someone else, who knows? I’ve decided to keep it to myself (no friends or family) for two reasons:

1. To be uninhibited by anonymity.

2. To experiment with the challenge of appealing to a set of unbiased strangers.

If anyone out there in the world is reading this, I thank you for your time. It is precious, valuable, and fleeting, and you didn’t have to spend it here.