This past year has been hard. I am not going to go into all the details for many reasons and I am not purposefully and annoyingly being vague. What I have learned is that so many of us are having a hard time. There is scarcely a person out there that isn’t struggling with something. Life is hard. And sometimes we lose our endurance for it..I did. I woke up to too many mornings with my sole desire being that of only returning to bed, as if I could sleep away my sorrows. I couldn’t.
This winter too has been hard. I have caught every cold one can catch. I have said “no” to too many invites; I have recused and laid my creativity fallow; I cried tears to the point of dehydration, and whined and prayed and pleaded for a reprieve. I have imagined that all the trials were part of some epic dark night of the soul that would reveal the meaning of life at its end.
And then something shifted..just enough. It was as if I was holding my breath and was at last allowed to inhale. A small inhale, but a glorious one.
Sunday I painted the piece above. I am not quite done.. I am waiting for the paint to dry a bit so I can add the finishing touches. I am grateful. I have much to be grateful for despite the hard stuff…so much.
14″x18″ oil on canvas
A beautiful bear made her way to the summit of Greenland this summer…
I haven’t painted in awhile. So much change has happened in the last 6 months.I sold my home, moved to another that is in a continuous state of remodeling. A few days ago I was finally able to sit down in my reassembled studio and paint. Below is the fruits of that labor..Forest Bear. An oil on 12X16 canvas.
And below are pieces I gave as gifts at a dinner party I hosted as a way of saying Thank You to the lovely friends who have helped me through this last year. The pieces are painted on the back sides of vintage metal print blocks. I love them.I had most guests pick out their own, those that couldn’t make it, I one selected for them. There a few more that didn’t make into the gallery..alas.
oil on 20″x30″
Foxes are the one animal I see regularly here in New Hampshire. It was time I painted another one.
Want to make an artist cringe? Ask her how much her painting costs?
Pricing my art is the single hardest thing about about being an artist. It’s painful. An artist friend of mine remarked on Facebook about the the difficulties of pricing one’s art. We are often asked “How long did it take you to paint?” It’s a hard question to answer. Sure there is a literal amount of time it took to actually apply paint to the canvas, start to finish. But it doesn’t account for the hours, months, and even years sometimes that I have ruminated and planned and redesigned in my head and in sketchbooks and canvases certain paintings. Two years ago I finally finished a painting I housed in my soul for years..literally years I dreamed of this painting. During this time, my skill as a painter grew; I learned new things; I matured as an artist. It was a painting that needed time to develop, I needed time to develop. When I finally was able to come to the easel and paint it..it took a few hours, that was it. And if it doesn’t sound too cocky ..the piece was beautiful; everything I had hoped it would be. Then I couldn’t sell her. It was a long awaited child I had finally birthed and I wasn’t going to put part with her so quickly; putting a price on her was crazy-talk. In the end, I didn’t sell her. I traded her for the work of another craftsperson, someone’s who own work skill, experience, and time I valued.
It’s easy to price out the cost of canvases, paint (you might be surprised at the cost of good quality oil paint), brushes, cleaning supplies, studio rent, business promotion expenses, travel costs. Even an hourly rate, if I were to charge $25 an hour..or $50, or $100, whatever. But does the hourly rate include the time an idea is developing in my head and in practice sketches? I don’t know..I really don’t. And all the failed attempts, what’s to come of them? So many unsuccessful paintings have died on the studio floor so that “art” could be made. A lot of good paint was used and scraped off of canvases trying to achieve the end goal. Did I mention paint is expensive?
Friends have suggested I develop a formula..cost of supplies plus hourly rate sort of thing. It makes sense; I should probably do that. But it’s hard. I tend to price my pieces in relation to how much I love them personally. When I buy art I am willing to pay in reflection to my love for that piece and the joy or sense of peace or emotion that the piece brings me. There’s no real formula for that. I wish there was…it might be easier.
I can’t speak for all artists. I just know that the business end of art is hard for me. And I wish it weren’t so.
This is a large 3’X4′ piece. I used oil, chalk and oil pastel. I am loving working larger pieces these days. People often say they don’t have room in their homes for larger pieces, but I actually find hanging larger pieces easier; it’s certainly easier than hanging a bunch of smaller pieces!!
I didn’t start out this piece with my sister in mind. But as I was finishing I got a call from my her. She lives in Hawaii..I live in New Hampshire so we’re pretty far away from each other. She’s my best friend and we do talk every day. Most every day..often about nothing. I’ll send her pictures of my pieces while I’m working on them..ask her opinion..get her encouragement. She’s a farmer among other things, you can read about her here on her blog…Our Hawaii Farm.
Close ups below.
When I was in art school, I painted what what I believe to be my best work ever. It was an acrylic on a small piece of wood painted in the style of a Byzantine Icon of Frida Kahlo. It was beautiful. It really was. I loved it. On the day it was completed, I hung it in art building on a hallway alongside the works of my fellow classmates, as per the usual practice. That night it was stolen.
I recall when I hung it I had a fleeting feeling that this would be the last time I saw my painting, but I dismissed it. In the blank space on the wall where my Frida had hung, I put a note pleading for her return. No questions asked. I hadn’t even taken a photo of her! Other notes from fellow students soon appeared. They weren’t as nice as I had been and I was kind of happy about that. But the notes didn’t help and I never saw my painting again.
In the years since then, I have tried to repaint that Frida. But they never were as good as that first one and I never finished a piece. You can’t recapture the energy and the magic of certain paintings; they’re just special and that specialness is a one time thing.
This week I was inspired to try again. I decided to forgo the icon format…too soon still. This is the second Frida this week. She looks a little angry here, but maybe she’s got something to be angry about.
Never The Less Oil on 30″X30″
An piece inspired by Imbloc and my beautiful friend Elizabeth. Spring Blessings everyone!