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Blog. Artist Musings

To Paint or Play

During the winter months many of us, I included, stay indoors more and look for the warmth of relaxing with a good book or watching favorite television shows and videos. Not being a participant of winter sports, I look for the enjoyment of what I call “my happy place.” This is a room in the house where I set up my easel, canvas, and paints. When inspired I spend a few hours each day lost in creativity, experimentation, and yes sometimes even frustration. The latter does not diminish my “happy” experience.

Alas, my experience during the spring, summer, and fall is quite different. I enjoy swimming, gardening, visiting, and traveling. I simply want to be outside more. It becomes a question of whether I have time to both paint and play. As primarily a landscape painter, I am greatly inspired by nature during these seasons, but I paint more in the winter months. To solve my dilemma of whether to paint or play I turn to my third eye, the camera.

Although I may play three-fourths of the year, I do sometimes have to retreat to my “happy place” when I have so many fresh photos to choose from that I can hardly wait to put some paint to the canvas.

Regardless of whether or when I choose to paint or play, the choice itself is enjoyable.

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Greener Grass

18 x 24″ Acrylic on Canvas

Why a Series of Paintings?

Why do artists paint series? For many it is to convey a message or present a theme across their body of work, to accomplish a goal or create a mood, or perhaps to provide direction for themselves or their audience.

Claude Monet, one of my favorite Impressionists, produced his series of Haystacks and the one of Poplars while exploring the effects of light and color at various time of the day and under different atmospheric conditions. His Rouen Cathedral series was painted while he was exploring his subject from numerous angles and in diverse lighting situations. This series caused Monet great despair and gave him nightmares, as he was not satisfied with what he wanted to achieve.

At this point I would like to explain my own objectives for my Italian Oil Paintings Series I and II. When I returned to my art, after an extremely long hiatus, I was anxious to paint Italy – all those images that had been floating around in my mind for years. After completing four paintings, three landscapes and one still life of Italy’s sunflowers and poppies, I decided to give those Italian subjects a theme; thus, I began unifying my work into a series. I actually gave it a name, “Into Italy.”

Italian Oil Paintings Series I provides the viewer with a tour of the Amalfi coast, the Tuscan countryside complete with hills and vineyards, Florence, Rome, the Italian Riviera, and Venice. There are sweeping landscapes in Tuscany, seascapes, the Colosseum in Rome, a cobblestone street, and Venice canals. I would like for viewers of this series to do more than just observe the paintings; I want them to imagine taking a tour of Italy, as I did when I created these paintings.

With Italian Oil Paintings Series II, I am concentrating on more intimate locations and everyday life of the people. Thus far, the series has small quiet streets, a courtyard, and people going about their daily lives.

Some artists enjoy painting whatever comes to mind or expresses their mood at the time, some find satisfaction in unifying a body of work, and many do both.

Villa in Tuscany oil painting

Villa in Tuscany
18 x 24″ Oil on Canvas

First Painting in Series I

Peaceful Corner of Rome oil painting

“Peaceful Corner of Rome”
18 x 24″ Oil on Canvas

First painting in Series II

Lessons on Creativity Learned from Children

For many artists, creative inspiration can sometimes be fleeting. We observe, we sketch, and we form ideas only to discard them. We begin, we walk away, and when we return it is to discover that our work is not going the way we had first visualized it. This experience isn’t exclusive to the visual artist. Anyone involved in a creative pursuit can experience this frustration – this “block”. I believe this happens for many, because as we grow older we become more self-critical, more fearful of making mistakes, or more worried of what others will think. Also, we let life with all its details interfere instead of using them to our advantage.

Perhaps we should follow the examples of children. Give children materials and tell them to draw, paint, write, or otherwise create anything, and the majority will have no problem doing so without hesitation. They won’t need hours, days, or weeks of searching for their inspiration. They will draw upon their brief experiences and perhaps their small world. They will create from what or who they love, want to be, or want to experience. They may or may not use “proper” proportions, colors, perspective, or even consider “what is it I want to say,” but they will create from their hearts or their imaginations.

The important lessons we, as adults, can learn from children’s creativity are to provide outlets for it, to nurture and praise it, and to remember to use it in our own artistic and creative endeavors.

This painting was created by my young grandson, and I do believe he has found those bold colors I have been searching for.

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