Monday, June 25, 2012

A Slow Finish

Wet Beaver Creek
Acrylic on Canvas
24" X 18"

I started out going gangbusters on this painting; but then life got a little hectic and I couldn’t get back to it while the coals of excitement still glowed. In fact, the coals cooled completely on this baby. I think I’ve shared this type of experience before: if I don’t finish a piece while I’m still in love with the subject, completion can be prolonged and painful.

Minutes after I signed my last piece, I broke out a new canvas—eager to set sail on a new journey. It was getting late in the evening, so I quickly blocked out the basic composition, dreaming of that cool fall day next to the stream. Luckily, I was able to come back to the beginnings of the piece the next night, and a few days later spent a long delightful afternoon working, taking it near to completion. I placed the painting in the viewing area to study and determine the finishing touches.

While bouncing around the floor to my exercise video, I figured out what needed to happen next. Some people read while they are on the treadmill, I do aerobics and look at my paintings. However, even though I knew where I wanted to go next with this piece, it took a couple of weeks to get back to it. My weekend afternoons were absorbed by chores or hiking (the latter an acceptable excuse). My evenings busy with other obligations. By the time I returned to the painting again, it was cold, cold, cold. I had to burst through the wall of resistance and boredom to complete it. That’s what I call it—the wall. If I just keep beating my head against it (in other words, keep painting), I break through and the flow begins again.

We camped beside Wet Beaver Creek on one of the last nights of our honeymoon in November. I wish we could have stayed longer; it was such a pretty spot. On the far side of the creek, the banks were choked with vegetation. An array of bright greens and yellows and golds stood out against a dark wall of lichen-covered rocks that defined the gully where the creek traveled. A cobble of water-smoothed stones made a beach on the near side, bordered with slender sycamores wearing glowing leaves of bronze and amber.

It was a peaceful place to camp, although some might have been put off by the waddling skunks that joined us that night, rubbing against our ankles while looking for bits of dropped food under our table. We stayed very still, speaking in soft voices, trying to calmly continue our game of Scrabble. We could smell them before we could see them. Once there were no scraps of food found (or left), they moved on to the next campsite, where a boisterous bunch of boy scouts stomped and hollered, chasing the skunks back into the brush for the night.

I started a new piece last night—again, moments after finished this one—and I'm very excited about my progress so far. It’s another image from the same trip. The color is intense and I plan to keep it that way—a landscape filled with the rich glow of late afternoon.

I have a busy week ahead of me, with company coming for the weekend. Keeping the flow going on this next piece may also be a challenge. Wish me luck!

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