Struggling Through a Painting

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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.

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I had a cat for 18 years. We watched each other grow up and kept each other company. She consoled me when life as a teenager got me down. She came to college with me and watched me sleep in, slack off, do last minute papers and stay up all night working on the painting due the next morning. She helped me move back in with my parents when college was over and I had no job or prospects. She was there for me when I met the love of my life and moved in with him. She finally grew tired and passed away and I was heartbroken. We had loved each other so much.

Time went by, my Dad got really sick, and I decided I wanted to adopt a dog. I begged my boyfriend. I was convinced that I could face anything if I had an animal to love and spend time with. So after months and months of searching and meeting prospective pups and watching the Dog Whisperer, we adopted our American Bulldog/Pointer mix and life as we knew it would never be the same. We had to work on our relationship and pack rankings for a while, of course, but he’s our best friend and many nights are spent curled up on the couch with him. He became the subject of two paintings and has inspired me to paint other dog portraits. The portrait above is of him looking quite handsome and serious. The one below, happy and laughing.

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I still miss my cat sometimes. We had such history. I realize I’ve yet to paint her portrait.

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