Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ballerina at Rest

It has been a riotous time on the emotional front. For the past two weeks my inner serenity has been pummeled by my baby's very dramatic high school graduation, the loss of my friend, boss, and pastor, and the announcement of our new boss and pastor to arrive within the next few weeks.

I am "holding down the fort" (thankfully with a lot of support) during the interim. Yesterday was the second of our rather high-anxiety staff meetings I moderated. The new pastor is not yet here and I can tell some of the congregation feels as if things are out of control.

Needless to say, for the past two weeks I have been unable to paint. Then, last night, when I seemed to need it the most, the stars shifted and planets moved to give me the gift of an entire evening at home alone. I had this 24"x30" canvas gessoed and ready to go, and I had originally thought about a rage-filled red and violet abstract but this is what wanted to happen instead.

Sabbath is a gift that we need more often than we are willing to receive it. The unwillingness can come from within or without, but we cannot forfeit our serenity without being complicit in that surrender. No one can take shabbat from us; it is God's gift.

I am resting this afternoon, reminding myself that things are not out of control. They are merely out of my control. Thank God they are in God's control.

I didn't know what to call this, incidentally. I labelled it Ballerina I in my files simply for lack of a name, and I think it's hilarious and marvelous that I have never taken ballet nor have I ever wanted to paint ballerinas. I hardly even imagine there would be a Ballerina II! I think this one should be titled "Ballerina at Rest".

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Plein Air

Plein Air or open air painting has its own special set of challenges and rewards. On the plus side, it quickens the heartbeat and warms the blood. On the down side, those effects may be simple anxiety resulting from the rapid drying of the acrylic paint. I don't know. The amazing thing is the immediate confrontation of subject and painter as the subject confronts the painter's preconceptions about form, light, perspective, color, and composition.

This little landscape (11"x14") was fun to paint, starting with an underglaze approximating red oxide to unify the ground and eliminate that white canvas. The red oxide was a color suggested by a piece David Lobenberg had done. It set the tone for an energetic, kinetic feel during the painting process, and in the places where the local color didn't quite obliterate the red it helped the soft colors "pop" a bit more.

I like not painting on white because it helps to set the comparative values (a deeper tone used for darker values) and the white acts as kind of a "writer's block", if you will.

I have many more which I'll finish in the studio at home and post when they're done, but this was really fun.