Never Give Up

Last year was not a good year for me artistically.  There were less places locally to exhibit paintings than there used to be.  And no one seemed to be interested in my work.  I signed up for Art Walk in October, when people visit local artists at their homes or studios.  In addition to the numerous paintings on the walls of my basement gallery, I put out a stack of older work I wanted to get rid of at greatly reduced prices.  The only painting I sold all year was one from that stack.

It made me wonder what was the point in painting if all I was doing was piling up art nobody wanted.  But for some of us not being creative does not seem to be an option.  We are simply programmed to be artists.  We can’t help it.  The same seems to be true of writers and musicians.  So I gave a few paintings as gifts and kept on creating.

Then came more bad luck.  My computer stopped working and went away for repairs for almost a month.  Computers are vital to just about everyone these days, including artists.  I couldn’t add photos of new paintings to those already on the computer or print them.  The records of my work were on my computer.  And I couldn’t write on my blog or enter art shows that these days have to be done on a computer.  When my computer finally returned I found a new Microsoft system on it and even more frustrating a whole new picture system, Adobe Elements 14, that is probably a good system if I could understand how it works.

But then suddenly things began to change for the better.  My daughter referred a woman to me who wanted a painting of a dog, now deceased, that had been her husband’s favorite.  She provided a photo.  I hadn’t done a dog in years but I rashly said yes and agreed to do it in pastels, a medium I don’t usually work in.  The result is below.  (I wanted to put it above but somehow couldn’t.)  The woman was pleased with the portrait of “Benny,” which was to be a gift for her husband.

Several more sales followed.  I participated in Art in the Park and sold a painting of a Bradford pear tree.  I joined the plein air painters at the Overland Park Arboretum spring event and sold a painting from it.  A relative bought a painting to give as a gift.  So I guess I’ll just keep on keeping on.  The process itself is irresistable.

 

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Seizing the Moment

Here in Lawrence, Kansas, spring arrived early this year.  All of a sudden the landscape was bursting with color, especially the trees.  While it was still late March the Bradford pear trees turned white with blossoms.  The redbuds and flowering crab apple trees soon followed.  Now the neighborhoods are also filled with lilacs and the young cherry tree in my back yard is covered with blooms.  What an inspiration for a painter.

But these very colorful sights are also very fleeting.  A tree that is in full bloom one day may in a spring storm send petals to the ground.  If you want to capture some of this beauty with paint you’d better not put it off.  Coming out of exercise class one morning I noticed a row of blooming Bradford pear trees across the street.  But I was in a hurry and didn’t stop to photograph them. Passing that way in the afternoon I did stop but somehow the scene was not the same.  The light was coming from a different direction and that made a difference.  Fortunately, I had enough sense to go back the next morning and photograph them and I have started a painting.

But actually painting on site is so much better.  When I was driving out in the country to paint at an artist friend’s house, I noticed her blooming Brandford pear tree long before I reached the house and that’s what I decided to paint chosing an 18″ x 14″ canvas with wide enough stretchers not to need a frame.  I was faced with a very windy day.  But I was determined not to waste this opportunity.  So I painted in my car, even though the car I have now is very small.  And I will remember the beauty of springtime whenever I look at that painting.

So when you see one of these glorious sights of spring, seize the moment.  Take a photo if you must or better yet don’t put off setting up your easel outside.  This is one of the best times of year to paint.