Up Close and Personal

Pastel Peonies

I suppose every attempted painting calls for getting personal.  For me it’s always tied to my own life journey and in some way sharing something about myself in the context of a moment.  I don’t always recognize the connection but it’s usually there if I take time to step back and reflect.  And to take a closer look at anything makes for a more personal and intimate experience.

Lately I’ve been spending quite a bit of time working on landscape paintings.  I am getting somewhat comfortable with them and the distance that exists between myself and the view.  I enjoy those experiences and on some level find the distance easier to deal with.  In some ways it’s easier to “fudge” or invent when there’s distance. It’s easier to ignore things when you can’t see them very well.

Yesterday, I was out and prepared to do another landscape.   Walking around I noted a hedge of peonies with a cluster of flowers still in bloom.  As I viewed them I thought maybe I could just paint them.  They resonated with me in some way.  When considering this as an alternative I felt nervous.  Questions started to pop-up and doubts.   How was I going to paint something “up close” with this huge garden around me?   How was I going to capture their essence?  How would they work as a composition?  How was I going to simplify?  Would it look good or be a waste of time to try? Could I do it?  All these questions…. I had painted flowers in my studio before but this felt so different.  So I walked around some more started to set up with a nice landscape and then I stopped.  Heading back to the peonies. They intrigued me and all of a sudden I knew I was there to them that day.  The outcome didn’t matter it was about a learning, experience and growth.  All I needed to do was begin.

As I am writing this I see the parallels with my life journey.  Looking up close and getting personal can be scary and intimidating.  However, critical and necessary for real growth.   Artistically speaking this is a huge part of my journey and what I aim for in my painting.  Getting settled into one format that works isn’t in my best interest.  Developing and challenging myself is.  And it’s certainly something I am interested in as a human being because then I know I am on the path to being my best self.   I can’t do that without getting up close and personal.

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