What you think about and feel has a way of insinuating itself in your painting without any special effort on your part.
|Wildfire, by Carol L. Douglas, oil on canvas.|
I gave up deep thoughts around the time I had children. I very seldom paint topically. Although I admire the paintings of Daumier, Bastien-Lepage, Goya, and others who commented on the human condition, I don’t want to paint about current events.
I recently reviewed my plein air sketches from the past summer, consigning some to the slush pile, reserving others to be more fully developed. There is very little of it compared to prior years. I’ve been teaching a lot this year. My side-hustle threatens to engulf my main work. That seems to be the pattern for many working artists this year.
Nor do I think what I’ve done has been particularly inspired. My paint-handling is just fine, but the content seems somehow lacking. “Does the world need one more painting of a foggy morning at Owls Head?” I sighed as I pitched a study onto my slush pile.
|The Dooryard, oil on canvas, by Carol L. Douglas|
My friend Martha lives in Napa. When I went to bed last night, she was again on evacuation alert. She’s already been evacuated once this summer. Fire came very close to consuming her home. She works in a winery that was shut down last weekend by the Glass Fire. Before she left the office, she texted us an image of flames climbing the hillside opposite their building. Although northern California can be a paradise, it’s been more like Armageddon recently.
|Six Bucks a Pound, oil on canvasboard, by Carol L. Douglas|
Thinking of Martha, I reworked my wildfire canvas one more time. This time I have something I like, although it’s by no means a ‘beautiful’ painting. It has the circular motion of that ride, and the punch of dead trees. But mostly, it has an emotional content it lacked.
That’s true of the other paintings I’ve liked from this summer. The Dooryard speaks to my own sense of isolation—that’s my own bedroom with the light off. Six Bucks a Pound is as topical as I ever get; it’s a local lobsterman hawking his wares on Route 1. It’s more illustration than fine art, but if I didn’t paint it, who would?
|Blustery, oil on canvas, by Carol L. Douglas|
Then I have a moment when I just paint for the sheer joy it brings me. Blustery is one of those paintings. I’d finished my piece for Cape Elizabeth’s Paint for Preservation and set up a second canvas in the ferocious wind. The only changes I made in the studio were to repair the damage from its frequent trips airborne.
Today at 5 PM is my FREE Zoom workshop. While I’m not nervous, I must be keyed up, because I haven’t slept well for the past few days.
Join me with a glass of wine, a spritzer, or whatever else. We’re going to talk about studying painting. What should students expect to get from a workshop or class? What should teachers offer? Have you always wanted to try painting but been afraid of classes? Are you taking classes but want to get more out of them?
Join us for a free-ranging discussion, but you must pre-register.