Three weeks ago I finished a three piece commission that I labored over for over 2 months. They are three 12 X12 acrylic paintings of the two dogs and one cat of my late Father’s wife, my dear “Ma Penny.” I was pleased with them and so was she.
Completion is a good thing. You’ve put in the time and effort and then you find yourself done! After the initial feeling of euphoria and accomplishment, however, there you are. What now? It can all be a bit disorienting. There is a favorite John Lennon saying I have “It’s better to travel hopefully than to arrive.” What next? Where was I with my own personal trajectory?
Luckily I’ve been in this spot all too many times before. Here is my recipe when you wind up in a “grey zone.”
Don’t panic. Be still.
Write in your journal
Do some cleaning/tidying in the studio.
Look for inspiration from the work of others. Pinterest is my favorite source of visual inspiration.
Do some warm-up exercises- no expectations. Scribble, splash, write lists of words that fascinate. Dedicate them to the gallery of the recycle bin or the collage box.
Eventually, the creative fairies take the bait. Like seagulls when you throw a piece of food to one, another will come until you have a flock of them around you.
I finally came up with the following work (after cleaning out my paper files & filling up my garbage can full of warm-ups…….)
Although I consider myself primarily a printmaker, I like to do whimsical illustrations from my imagination with black India ink lines and brightly colored watercolor. It’s like creating my own coloring book without the concern of color splashing outside the lines. These little paintings are usually based on something out of my life. The piece below is a composite of fond bath time memories. Emmy Lou, my beloved long hair tabby (RIP), would often come sit on the edge of the tub and watch me as I languished in the water. Then we would be joined by a dog, or perhaps two who would take a nap on the rug beside me.
Another example of ink line and watercolor is the piece below I recently published in my post, “Daily Visitor”. It is of the stray cat, Lizzie that comes to the door every night to be fed. I like to exaggerate the features of animals and people to add to their personality
Simple pleasures recorded with ink lines and colored water.
The once elusive stray cat we had named “Phantom” that lives under our house has warmed to us. Her nightly visits for food has turned to a several-times-a-day occurrence. Yesterday she was following us around the yard. As she has outlived her name we now call her “Lizzie.” I find her a delight and a great subject for art pieces. Someday I hope to pet her on my lap. For more on our stray cats, see my Stray Cat post.
After my dear cat Emmy Lou passed away about 12 years ago, I’ve had a huge kitty void in my life. Unfortunately, my dog combination including an Australian Cattle Dog has not been ideal for another cat. Cattle Dogs are known cat chasers/ killers. Other than that, he’s a peach. So imagine my surprise when the Siamese mix cat that appeared in the barn about a year ago showed up on the porch begging for food. We plied her with food; dry food with wet food and a little cream in a bowl. We knew she was the one who killed the destruct-o mole in the vegetable garden & was keeping the mice in check around the chicken pen. We named her “Luna” as she only showed up at night.
About 2 months later, a little brown tabby moved in under the house and could be seen along the perimeter of the yard. She was so elusive, I named her “Phantom.” Then one day after eating the leavings from Luna she too showed up on the porch begging. Now we make sure both cats get a meal. These animals were probably dumped by their owners an all too common occurrence in this rural area. We enjoy their nightly visits from our kitchen window and are considered part of the family. They have inspired both a poem and some artwork.