Monday, November 17, 2014

Artist's Block

My art studio is in the basement. On a sunny day, the light seeps in the two tiny windows on the northeast side. You have to catch it just right and work quickly before it moves south. It's not particularly warm down there and it's cluttered with books and papers and half done paintings. My easel stands in a corner, an acrylic raven in a turquoise sky waits for his wings.

I live in Antartica this week. I was not going to step a Sorel outside. I was also suffering from the flu. So, I decided to paint a series of desert succulents. Maybe I should finish carving out that horse in linoleum. Or what about pounding in the rivets on that handmade journal? The one with that Japanese fabric. Wolves on linen. I really should finish that once and for all. I could set up my Magnolia sewing machine and make a sarong with the elephant batik tapestry from India.

I made numerous trips up and down the stairs, lugging art supplies, balancing jars of brushes and tubes of paint on my table easel, pencils in my mouth, carrying as many items as possible in one haul. I'm going to work in the dining room on the big oak table, directly in front of the sunny window. Close to the whistling teapot, the heat of the pellet stove, the comfort of a stereo spinning records by Gregory Alan Isakov:

give me darkness when i’m dreaming, give me moonlight when i’m leaving
give me mustang horse and muscle, cuz i won't be goin' gentle
give me slant-eye looks when i’m lying, give me fingers when i’m crying
and i ain't out there to cheat you, see i killed that damn coyote in me…

Only recently I discovered canvas paper. With a stick of charcoal I sketched out a yucca. Mixing white acrylic with phthalo green is one of my favorite things to do. Adding some other shade of blue to that it makes for a pretty southwestern sky, which is the only color of sky I ever seem to want. It's in most of my paintings. I squeeze out cactus yellows and greens and a pearly white pod with a tinge of vanilla.

I don't have the right brushes. So I use the small flat one anyway. My hand shakes. But, I've only had one cup of Great Northern organic coffee! My head is pounding. I take more ibuprofen. I drink more tea. I take a break. Looking out the window, I can see the wind is showing off again. Have you ever seen a water spout over a lake? I just saw a tornadic snow spout in my yard. A snownado. I check the temperature gage outside. -14. Toasty. Compared to yesterday's -26. Gosh, I hope the horses are okay.

I add some jet black detail to set off the colors in my desert scene and I really need some new brushes! Oh, forget it. Frustrated, I smear the paint around on the enamel tray with my fingers, crumple up the painting and throw it in the trash. There. Now I can start working on the pony in linoleum. The trouble with carving a block is, you really don't know how it's going to turn out until you roll out the paint, very thinly, lay down the most expensive piece of cotton printing paper, apply just the right amount of pressure on the carved block, for exactly the right amount of time, and then pray it printed evenly and looks amazing. If it doesn't then there's really not much you can do about it. Sometimes that goes in the trash, too.

My horse did turn out alright. Not great. I will probably carve another one today. Or maybe I will carve a bison puffing out breath clouds in the fog.









 

33 comments:

  1. Such incredible images...and you need some rest, hot tea, soft music...soft light get well soon ( I would not be able to live without sun very long) xx

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    1. I rested. I consumed more tea, I read two books and a Marie Claire magazine! I let the sun beat down on my face through the window. I WILL NEVER live without sun. Sun heals, Jeansy. You know that. ;)

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  2. just saw the kitty peeking...so adorable.....I cannot imagine that cold..I just shivered thinking about it

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    1. I shiver too. I'm not meant to be in the cold. I'm a California girl!

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  3. Take a break, my dear friend. Drink some tea, read a good book. Send me some of that cold and snow. :)
    All I can think about now is a snownado. It creates a lovely image in my mind....a sparkling white entity of wind and ice crystals dancing across the yard.
    Be well
    Smile.
    xx

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    1. Haha! For sure, it was just like that, Julie! Ice crystals, glistening diamonds, dancing across the yard!!! NOT.
      Blustery wind blown weeds and tumbling and whirling sticks and ice particles horizontal and fog! I've been blown over in that nonsense before!
      But, you'd prolly love it just the same. :)

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  4. Oh, how I know just how that feels pulling your first print of an edition. So much time carving, hours and hours, then taking a piece of paper that costs practically half an hour's wage and just trusting...it looks like your horse turned out gorgeous, though! I also love the paint colors on your palette.
    Enjoy the sunny light on your dining room table and your tea, and feel better soon!

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    1. Thank you so much Clare.
      Of all people, you know just what I'm talking about.
      It's so painful sometimes, the process and the result, a lot of times so disappointing. But, I love to carve. And I learn every time. Live and learn, baby!
      My horse turned out ok. Ruby's mane looks like Pegasus spikes, so I hid it with a tube of paint! Lol.

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  5. A snowado and -14. I can't imagine how cold that is but the beautiful sunlight streaming through makes your studio sound perfect. An exciting and inspiring place. Keep warm, drink tea and admire your horse masterpiece x

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    1. If it weren't for the sun, I think I would truly die!!!!
      Thanks Aud. I'll send you a print of Ruby, my little wild yearling. :)

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  6. "The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection."

    Michelangelo

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    1. Thank you for your always kind and thought provoking notes. So encouraging!!
      :) :)

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  7. I can almost feel your feverish frustrations in this post, Lynn. Like the others, I think you need to curl up near that stove with a warm afghan and a book and get better. And stay indoors! Love seeing the kitty peeking out behind the brewing coffee and your horse is awesome! Get some rest, friend.

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    1. I'm glad you felt the frustration I was having! I wanted to let it all hang out and to share the difficulties we all have at some time or another in the projects we wrestle with. Sometimes things just don't work out. Sometimes we are just too sick to succeed! I really just needed more NyQuil and a purring cat!
      You are such a great friend, you know that? :)

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  8. These are incredible shots. Art fascinates me. I hope you feel better soon, my friend!

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    1. Hey! You like these snowy garden pics, huh?
      Oh, that's right. You LOVE snow!
      Yes, art is fascinating, there's so many fun things to learn, in all mediums.
      I really need to take another class or two. :)

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  9. Settle in friend, and feel well soon. Some hand mixed tea will accompany my next letter to you. Take good care.

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    1. It feels good to feel good again!!
      Thanks for the well wishes and just so you know, I drank hot chocolate last night and thought of you!!
      x

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  10. gosh these are pretty, Lynn! sorry to hear that you're not feeling well-- hopefully it has run its course and you are on the mend. we only got down to -7 during the past week, but even that feels awful when i go out to feed and the horses walk toward me squeaking and crunching on the snowpack. one morning they were all covered in frost. now we have that wonderfully slippery, slimy snow/mud that makes walking upright a constant challenge! however, i'll take that over subzero temps. be well, friend, and stay warm and cozy!
    xoxo

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    1. I heard you were cold too! I can see icicles on your horse manes. ;)
      Thanks for stopping by my neighborhood, J.
      I think it's going to be sunny and in the 30's the rest of the week, so we'll both be smiling and playing outside in the most beautiful land on earth! Yay for Colorado & Wyoming!! Like no place on earth! :)

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  11. As you can tell - we all send you healing hugs from everywhere.
    God is gonna flip the coin to the bright side!

    Prayers for the horses too.

    LOVE ya, Sister Prairie.

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    1. Hey! It's flipped and I feel fine....!!!
      Good grief, that flu bug is wicked.
      Get the flu shot! It's a good idea. ( now ya tell me! ) hahahaha.
      x

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  12. awww. sick with the flu. let me tell ya'. it's goin' 'round up here, and a strain of influenza NOT covered by the vaccine! YIKES!!

    i'm lovin' that artwork! wide and wild swipes of colour. so good for the soul.

    i can tell ya'....boo's tea is the best. i love it for sleep. and just the taste of it. so good.

    [send alaska some snow. put it on the reverse jet stream, if there is such a thing. i think not, though.]

    love ya', red dirt.

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    1. As, thanks for the well wishes, Bernard. I'm feeling goo. The snow has melted, mostly. Sun is shining!
      I'll bet you'll get your snow. It'll pile up and the snow shoein' will be grand!
      You'll pull your little toque over your head and a doggie or two will follow behind in their little snow boots!
      I can't wait to drink the Boo special concoction!
      Her hot cocoa cannot be beat!!!
      Kisses on the wild & wicked prairie wind! :)

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    2. Ah... I mean.
      And goo, well, goo means good. ;)
      Just got home from work and I'm wiped out, Bernard. Just plain pooped.

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    3. Marianne!! Boo's tea is a homemade blend of herbal teas by the famous Brandi Boo.
      Divine. Like she is. :)

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  13. all your projects sound amazing! I know exactly what you mean about having to catch sunlight when your studio is in the basement ...
    my studio was in our basement while my kids were little - I had a little nook under the stairs and it was so cozy ... then when my daughter left for University (many years ago now) her room became my studio.
    feel better xo

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    1. How completely sweet of you to swing by here, Deb!
      As an amazing artist, you can imagine how important natural light is!
      I seldom set up down there in the 'dungeon'. It's just not inspiring. In the summertime, I can open up the windows and hear the birds and then THAT makes for a pleasant experience. You know. ;)

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  14. feeling your pain. It was hard to come home to the cold after walking in the Tucson desert. Love, M

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    1. I followed you everywhere you went while in Tucson! Oh, my old stomping grounds, how is miss it!!!
      Sabino Canyon. Went there all the time. On Sunday mornings, C and I would hike it and then go have breakfast and read the Sunday paper and talk about the bobcats we'd see or laugh about the Gila monster we almost stepped on, etc etc.!!! I adore the desert, Marianne. I hope you had a blast out there.
      Did you go to the Sonoran desert??!! :)

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  15. I have not explored the Sonoran desert YET! :)

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    1. What????!!!!!*#%#<!!!
      You will not believe your eyes, when you do.
      Be sure to drive out there and when you wind down into it, giant saguaros as far as the eye can see...now that is something else altogether, Marianne. Do it!! :)

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