Looking for something to paint… Not inspiration, just for something that will exercise my skills as a painter. The need to work is always with me. Inspiration is different than finding something to put to canvas. Studies are what we painters do when the full blast of inspiration misses us. When all I want is to feel the paint leave the brush, to see the colors form an arm or an eye and have a familiar face appear on my canvas or panel. It’s my guilty pleasure. There is no real thinking involved in many of these studies I do, like breathing we just do it, that is how it is at times for me, doing these studies.
Last week it was a rose I painted, today it was a portrait of a friend. In both cases I had painted these subjects in my head first, something I often do, not many of these actually make it to a canvas. With the portrait of Terry, I did several paintings while listening to my morning coffee mates discuss who was the best local coach. Solving the world problems we have decided is beyond our capabilities. Deciding who was the best High School coach is more in line with our morning minds capabilities, and then only if all of us have parked our cars between the lines, which is how we measure who’s opinion will carry the most weight. Though I nailed my parking space perfect, I was eliminated from the conversation when I mistook Darrel Bonner to be a pharmacist. I was allowed to remain at the table having been the best parker of the day but no way would I be allowed to express my opinion in the debate over who was the best coach in town.
Sitting quietly sipping my German Chocolate coffee with caramel syrup I began painting portraits of each of my friends. Mixing colors in my head and imagining each stroke of the brush as the portraits began to take shape. Terry’s hands caught my attention, strong expressive hands. The gestures interested me. Especially his left hand with its foreshortening. I made a mental note of the colors in his face and hands as the debate over the coaches went on. I decided then I was going to bring this mental portrait to life in my studio. For this, I needed a great drawing of Terry or a fine photo. The camera in my phone would have to do, I did not want Terry to become self-conscious and begin posing, so I played as though I was checking facts on the internet. I got a fairly good picture to work from.
For me, there are always subjects around worth painting. People are my first love, but there are other things out there if we just open our minds. The light falling on the plate of bagels before me can be a worthy subject or a pot of flowers in need of watering. When we awaken the artist inside we see with a clearer vision, we are in tune with the world around us making anything possible.