Well, this is my first blog ever! Now comes the hard part, what should I write about? Who would ever read it? Is the purpose of a Blog for others to read your posts and to pass judgement on what you say? I’m going to be 34 years old this month. And as I get older the more I think about if I have accomplished everything that I want to accomplish in my life at this point. The answer is yes. I believe I have accomplished everything that I had set out to do since starting college. I have an awesome job, wife, and family. But is there something I’m missing? It has occurred to me that back in high school my dreams and aspirations were to be an artist later is life. To produce artwork that draws people in and the creation of works that express emotion. They’re many artists that I admired while in high school, but only one really stood out to me, Thomas Kinkade. Now, today I do not consider him as much of an artist anymore mainly because he never finished his paintings himself as he always passed it down to an employed artist to finish. Plus his work is so now massed produced. There was a good 60 minutes show on him and his art process that really explained how he did his paintings. I can’t say how disappointed I was from what I found out. Now that I’m older I know that his work is impossible to paint alone without computers/special effects. But is it too much to try to aspire to achieve that level of artistic ability? He did very good plein air paintings. I initially admired his ability to transform basic colors into something that really makes a painting and sets the mood as you look at it. I have always been enthralled with his ability to paint a landscape and wished that I could somehow get to that level of painting. I remember in high school, art class was my favorite class. It allowed me to explore my creativity and new mediums that I had never really done before. My teachers were very enthusiastic about my progress and it was something that I felt like I could do for a living. But my father believed that art is a good hobby but it’s not a good career path for a man who will maybe be the sole provider for his family. My father passed away when I was in Pharmacy school, but thinking back to this moment as an adult I cannot imagine how hard of a decision it was for him to tell me that. I miss him a lot and I do really admire him still to this day for all the things he taught me. But going back to where we started I really enjoyed all the accomplishments I made in high school academically and artistically.
Taking art in high school I was able to explore many mediums such as acrylic, oil, clay, printing press, watercolor, and pastel. One of my favorites at the time was pastels and pastel pencils. I mainly like this medium because I have so much more control of the outcomes of the finished work. Acrylic and oil painting have always been harder for me because of the brush strokes and the mixing of color have to be right so that the product you are painting looks like a real scene. I liked pastels so much that I applied for a state sponsored scholarship, The Archibald Rutledge scholarship. Here I submitted a pastel pencil painting of two apples and an orange over a crumpled blanket. I called the final composition, “StopLight”, secondary to how the fruits were arranged. The piece took me about two weeks of blending and layering to get the effect I wanted. After submission, I found out a month later I was one of 10 finalists to compete for the college scholarship and that I had to appear up at the state capitol for the final interview. When I arrived I was up against some really good competition. The final interview was split into two sections, an in person interview and a drawing section. The interview I felt went well but the drawing section was weird for me. The task was for us to draw an imaginary city on mars…I was like, what? You have to be kidding. I attacked the picture as best as I could but in the end I failed to meet their requests. I did not win the scholarship. However, as part of the perk the South Carolina Department of Education hung my painting in the South Carolina State House for one year. After that experience of failure I then went on to explore different painting mediums such as oil, acrylic, and other forms of pastel (soft and hard). At the end of my senior year in high school it was time for submission of my advanced placement portfolio. I produced quite a bit of artwork for this portfolio. I learned how to take photos properly of artwork so that a photo can rely all the true colors as if seeing it in person. I ended up making a score of 4 out of 5 which was pretty good. You never find out what caused your score to fall as I would imagine a 5 out of 5 is impossible? Later that summer prior to college I enrolled at Winthrop University and declared chemistry as my major biology as my minor and I took no art classes. I dropped art from my majors. Though in college from time to time I would doodle and sketch some drawings. I do remember my first summer back from college I met up with my old art teacher from high school, Mrs. Stafford, and we went downtown and we both painted together in downtown Charleston. It was a great time. I really wished I had asked her more questions about how to approach a painting outside, but I didn’t. But it was in that period of time the picture that I created absolutely looked nothing like the landscape before me. It dawned on me at that point in time that I had put no effort into thinking before painting. If you are going to be any good, you have to at least learn how to execute. High school art class never taught me how to perceive a still life, landscape, and how to transmit what you are visually seeing to a canvas. They would usually just have a still life there and say, good luck everyone! I knew then that I had a lot to learn if I was ever going to be good. When I returned back to Winthrop for the fall I somehow just forgot all about art. Time and responsibilities have a way of doing that to you. From the time of graduating high school, which was 2002, I never picked up a brush again until 2016. Can you believe that? Fourteen years had gone by that I have neglected myself the ecstasy/enjoyment of painting. Painting or escaping into some type of creativity never occurred during that period of time in my life. It was until the fall of 2015 I finally picked up a brush again. This time I experimented with acrylic paint versus oil that I had done in high school. Acrylic was less messy and it sure did dry fast which allows me to get in multiple layers without making mud…I worked from a photo of a landscape in Earlysville, Virginia (close to where I lived). Right then and there the passion flowed back to me; however, I could tell that I was severely rusty. Slowly through the next year until now I would begin to paint again. I would paint a picture and then walk away and come back to it 2 to 3 weeks later based on my work schedule and adulting duties. My wife and I decided to change jobs and move closer to our families. This was very important to us! But as I get older I still want to experience those cherished memories again that I did back in high school. I was just so naive then as I feel I didn’t take advantage of my art teachers instruction in helping me get more comfortable with other mediums.
Now that I am painting again off and on I’m enjoying it but I’m not having fun. I’m finding it’s a really hard struggle to balance work life, married life, and getting enough free time to complete the enjoyment of finishing a work of art. So in my quest to figure out how to improve I came across a book called Daily Paintings by Carol Marine. The book is very fascinating and it really does touch upon on how to improve one’s painting skills. It focuses mainly on how you should paint daily but paint small. She defines daily literally daily, just about as often as you possibly can. These paintings would be anywhere from 6 x 6 or 8 x 8. Where you will spend roughly anywhere from 1 hour to 3 hours on one painting. This way by painting small you can accomplish more and giving yourself a chance to branch out and try something new. If the painting is a flop, you really haven’t given up much to try again. And if you find something that works for you you should take that skill and carry it over until the next day’s painting per her instructions. The book also touches on the skills that you learn in these small paintings will carry you through larger paintings. I will have to see how that goes. So in reading this book I’ve taken a lot of the advice and I’ve explored different blogs, and different Facebook groups. I’ve noticed that the big artists never really paint big pictures they’re always small (usually under 20 x 20). This is one thing that I never learned in high school. I always thought bigger was better. So I’m going to take Carol Marines challenge. I am preparing to embark on a challenge of trying to paint daily for 1 hour (or maybe even draw if time is tight). So I’m going to take the next couple of days and assess how do I really want to attack this challenge. The biggest and best part of this is that if you can shave out one hour of the day doing something that you love and enjoy it should be well worth it in the end. So my challenge not only is to paint daily but not to complain, procrastinate, or not paint. I want to do this! I need to do this! I will strive to be better with each painting and with practice I can get there. But the struggle is to carve out that niche of time that’s my time, but not sacrificing taking care of my baby girls or my time with my wife. Though I would love to sell my artwork that is not the intent of my doing this challenge. My intent of doing this challenge is to find the love once lost that I had with art and to get really good with how I interpret and assess a landscape or still life. If I sell my art work then that is a plus! I want to get good at mixing color again and being able to perceive and use just the primary colors to get any color that I want. This is a very tall order. But I can do it. So fasten your seatbelts kiddos let’s enjoy the ride. Happy Painting!