Monday, April 1, 2013

Making Art {an admission}

I'm doing it. I'm trying.

Do you know how hard it is for me to admit that I'm trying? The potential for failure lurks on the other side of trying. It's easy not to try. It's a little scary to try. I'm trying to make art. I'm starting to think of myself as an artist.

I've never felt comfortable calling myself an artist. It seemed to assert too much, make too bold a claim about myself and what I make. But my kids call me an artist. They tell people, "My mom's an artist." When they do that I feel a little bit like saying "Shhh!" and kicking them under the table. I haven't contradicted them, but I feel a little awkward, over-exposed. I feel a little like that right now.

A few months ago my husband told me he wanted me to have the resources I needed to focus more on my painting. He's made good on it. When I'm in the middle of a painting project, he happily makes dinner and takes care of the kids so I don't have to stop. He's awesome.

So, I'm reading about painting and materials: value, hue, composition, brushstrokes, canvas, paint, medium, and . . . so much to learn. I am excited. I'm painting more. And we're building me a studio (what?!). More on that to come . . . .

{a dahlia photo I found online}

I recently did some practicing on a pretty large scale--about 30 x 40. My dear friend, Kasey, is about to welcome her second baby--her first little girl--into their family. This little one's bedroom is already super sophisticated with horizontal stripes and deep colors. Kasey asked me to paint a large close up of a vibrant dahlia for the new nursery. It was a challenging and exciting project for me.

In my reading lately I've been learning about the importance of designing a composition based on the patterns the different values make in the arrangement (that is the lights and darks). I treated this dahlia painting as a study in value, beginning with the initial sketch made from a photo.

 {my posterized sketch}

Then I did a small preliminary painting to experiment with color.

Once I started the final painting, I tried to be constantly aware of whether the spot I was handling fell in the shadow or the light. I began with a quick underpainting in yellow ochre and ultramarine delineating these lights and shadows.

The canvas was so large that I had to make our piano in the living room into a makeshift easel. It worked out fine although I did have to pack things up for piano practice pretty often.

The finished painting is definitely my interpretation of the photo, not my attempt to copy it. I like a looser brushstroke and clean colors. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

And it made for some unique baby shower decor.

Look at my silly smile. Jack insisted on taking a picture of me with my painting.
Once again, I'm feeling a little vulnerable, a little over-exposed. 
It's scary stepping into the picture and admitting that I'm trying.


  1. Um, I've always thought of you as an artist....I didn't realize there was any question. ;) Beautiful work on the painting, and I love that the kiddos see things for what they really are and are honoring their mama and her gifts.

  2. This is wonderful and, of course, I'm not surprised at the beginning of this new chapter in your life as an artist (indeed, you are).

    proud Papa...

  3. That's beautiful. You are definitely an artist! No question. And, I'm going to start saying it to people when I'm with you.

  4. Laura, I'm so impressed. Wow. The painting is lovely. (How long did it take you start to finish?)

  5. Thank you all! Your words are so encouraging.


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