I was born this way. From the time I picked up a crayon, I knew I was an artist. My stick figures had substance; my faces had noses, my hands had palms as well as fingers. My little gabled houses cast shadows on the strips of green lawn. I never doubted I'd be an artist (without knowing at all what that meant - artists weren't fixtures in my working-class household), through high school and art school and graduate school.
But then things got in the way: finances, fear, unrealistic expectations. I took a job, temporarily I thought, and it turned into a career.
For a long time after I started my first publishing job and painted only part time, I continued to identify myself as an artist. But after having two children, and working full-time, and commuting too far to work, even part-time painting was impossible. It became a sometimes, late at night, after the kids were asleep activity. I stopped telling people I painted. It was too painful, really, and too hard to explain. It was like a live little animal that I secretly kept in my pocket, and when it made some tiny noise, people would say, "What's that?"
"Oh, nothing," I'd say. "It's nothing."
It wasn't nothing; it had been my whole identity. My story's not unique at all, I know. But almost 25 years later, I'm on the road to changing the ending. And it feels like a new beginning.
I started painting in earnest again in June of this year. I was pushed into it; I lost my job in a "reorganization", and a new job in this economy seemed like an impossibility. Suddenly the little animal in my pocket was making lots of noise. Painting felt like an urgent necessity; it was now or never. So I just started. And I haven't stopped. It instantly felt right, as though I'd been imagining these paintings all these years and now I just had to make them happen. I still had a family to support, the finances weren't much better than they'd been years ago. But the fear was gone. It wasn't as though I'd never stopped, but in many ways it was much better.
My blog, Sixty Days, chronicles my decision to start painting, and the challenges and struggles of the first sixty days. After making it through my first "sixty day" challenge, I feel that I need to step it up, and commit to a body of work that will allow me to start exhibiting again.
Six Paintings About Water in Sixty Days will allow me to pursue more deeply the subject matter that interests me now - the changes in the water's surface created by another moving force. My paintings will be all the same size - 48"x 48" - but they will differ from each other in color and energy level depending on the source. I start these paintings on site, with oil pastel sketches. I also take copious videos and photos for reference; I find the videos especially helpful in allowing me to trace the water's movement; still photos are sometimes deceptive, and too static to make paintings from. I'll finish them in the studio, sometimes returning to the site when I need to see the original source again. I'm fascinated by the patterns created by the transference of energy from the moving object to the water. The multi-layered reality of water surface, light, sky, and objects below the surface, create an immensely rich visual challenge for a painter. When I finish this project, I know that I will be well into the next phase of my return to painting.
Here's where the money will go: Two months' studio rent is $550. Materials and supplies for six 4x4 paintings will run about $150 each (stretcher bars, linen, oil paints and solvents). The remaining $300 will cover miscellaneous expenses - transportation for getting to and from sites, making photo prints for reference, etc.
It's hard to ask for help, but at the same time, it's exhilarating. It means that I'm committed to the process, and that I'm willing to take on the emotional responsibility of backers. Would I do this project anyway, without Kickstarter funding? Probably, but it would take much longer and be less focused. And time is something that feels less infinite, now.
I'm pleased to be able to offer to my backers items of some value - art objects of varying sizes and complexities and media. It's what I can give, happily, to those who show their faith in me. I know I won't disappoint you.
- (31 days)