Nothing stops the process of packing up for moving like coming across my high school yearbooks. They practically leaped out, and lured me into going through them, page by page. Equal parts laughing and cringing, I spent my sweet time looking through them, reflecting on who I was then and who I am now. And knowing that, at the very core, I'm not all that different now.
I was then, as I am now, an artist. This is my cornerstone. There was a period of my life, being too busy with trying to support myself, I did not paint a single stroke. This is what I had to do at the time. Luckily for my creative soul, my circumstances changed and I was able to return to my art. Even though I don't do it everyday, at least I always have a painting or project going, set goals for myself for exhibits, and I keep art in my mind and heart at all times.
Our yearbook theme for my senior year was Changing Tides. I don't remember who came up with that deep one; we were a creative lot. As art editor, I scattered my pen & ink drawings of seagulls and seascapes throughout the pages. I look at those drawings done 30 years ago, and first of all think that my skill has improved quite a bit since then (one would hope!). I vaguely remember drawing them, but mostly I remember how good it felt back then to see them in print, immortalized (albeit for a small audience), a contribution to a part of time.
The yearbooks are all packed in a box again, to be looked at the next time I happen across them. My memories are tucked neatly back to where nostalgia lives, a place that should only be visited for a short time and infrequently, so the real living and art making can continue. Not to mention the packing and the excitement of setting up my studio in our new home.
I’m starting a couple of new watercolors, the first two of twelve new paintings I plan on having ready for an exhibit in September.
In my mind, I can conceive of how I want them to look, but I know once the painting starts and the watercolor starts to do its own magical thing, they will turn into something a little different than the imagined. I start with a solid drawing, which I then transfer to my blank stretched paper, and then I start painting. Just like it’s a good thing to go forth into your life with some sort of plan, I find it’s important for me to start with a good drawing, one that is drafted well, and follows compositional rules – it’s important to start with solid bones.
The beauty comes when the painting starts. Adding the color, fleshing out those compositional bones, taking on the challenges of the unpredictable that watercolor presents, gives the painting life. The painting becomes an organic amalgamation of vision, chance, and irony, resulting in what was meant to be, and what I’m meant to learn.
And that’s alright with me.