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Feel the Fear

A friend suggested (kindly) that I do not write blogs frequently enough. As I explained why the last one took so long to draft, I noticed that it sounded an awful lot like someone making an excuse for herself. So I started to think about what the next blog topic could be? And I decided to blog about the decision to embark on a new challenge. The earth shattering challenge? To continue the cloud/atmosphere series which had been painted on mostly smallish canvasses and create the next one on a much larger canvases. There is a technical challenge, paintings that work in a small or medium format do not always translate to a large format. And at this point in the series I am really focusing on sky/atmosphere without the "grounding " a horizon line provides. So here was a challenge to do something I hadn't before. Then I thought, no one but an artist will understand why this is daunting, everyone else will just stop reading because they won't be able to relate. Thinking again, I said to myself, "Oh no! everyone has those moments when they must decide to move forward without assurance that the step they want to take will result in a sought after objective." Maybe you decide that this job is no longer suitable and you must look for a new one, or go back to school. Or that you really need to go speak to that person and clear the air. Or take that first step into a new relationship, or end one that is not serving either party. How about the decision to go ask your boss for a raise? In other words everyone comes up against big (or not so big) challenges that are challenges because they require us to step away from what we are comfortable with, what we know we can do, or what we can "live with" and start some endeavor that has an uncertain outcome. We imagine that we might not succeed. And this, my friend, can cause fear to rise up. If we turn away because of that fear, no growth will occur. At times like these I think of a mantra I first heard intoned by Jack Canfield, "Feel the fear and do it anyway" So back to my challenge. I had started some 9 months ago creating little (6 x 6") paintings of clouds. I started working on these really small (for me) canvases, in order to keep on working and to focus on consistency, something we witness everyday, as I was trying to cope with my fear of what would happen to our country after this last election. Here are two examples of the little jewel like paintings I produced.

Over the ensuing months I made some increasingly larger paintings. Now I had become aware of a drive within me to see if I could capture the impact of clouds and light on our psyche. When you are painting in this large size (48 x 48"), the size becomes as much a tool as the paint, color, texture and canvas. Working large enables the artist to surround the viewer, encompassing their field of vision. Think of the difference between the feeling you get when looking at a scene you are standing a short distance from and compare that to the feeling you get when you stand on a hill and look across at a landscape. Being aware of how this works in the viewers experience, I wanted to employ this to my benefit as I create the painting.

The first painting, has a dramatic focus on light from the sun breaking through clouds in a deeply dark sky. The vantage point seems to be of a person looking up directly at the sky. As I was working I made a decision to leave the bold gestural strokes in the lower right hand corner without any "finessing", breaking any three dimensional illusion created in other sections of the canvas.

In the second painting, I wanted to capture the clouds and sky with movement from dark to light and I wanted to capture the intensity of storm clouds.

In this one, the handling of the paint along the bottom of the canvas is left rough, reinforcing the two dimensional nature of the painting and contrasting with the three dimensional storm clouds.

The depth was developed through the application of layer on layer paint. I had a great time painting this one.

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