Finding ‘That Thing’

Paint Rags (2)

I’m in the last week and a half of a deadline for a book I’ve been working on for ages. I’m spent. I’ve been painting every day for what seems like an eternity but is actually only 2 and a half months (for this project at least). Before that it was months of drawings and before that other projects and other books.

Some days are good painting days. Yesterday it was a good painting day. It was also a sunny, beautiful and even warm day. The window was open, the birds were singing and the light in the studio was perfect. Everything worked. Today it is grey, there is a light rain and painting is painfully slow. I’ve lost that little thread of inspiration. Nothing seems to connect right. It probably doesn’t help that I stayed up late watching Blade Runner on tv last night.

While I’m itching to be finished with this final project and have my life back for a while, I’m still looking forward to tackling my own paintings. I’m not completely tapped out. In fact, the more exhausted I get working on this project, the more excited I get about dragging the 5 big canvases out of the garage and tackling a series I’ve been thinking about for a while.

I don’t want to make it seem that this project isn’t enjoyable. It is. There are bits that are really exciting. Part of the enjoyment comes when I’m working on a composition that I haven’t solved entirely in the sketches. It’s fun when it comes together under my brush. Almost every illustration has something in it, that thing that captures my interest. I just have to dig into it to find it, otherwise I just feel like I’m filling in space with paint. Yesterday that thing was the way the scene in the illustration was lit. Our house was filled with low, gold February light and shadows cast by plants and furniture. Borrowing some of the light and the shadows cast by our bird of paradise plant on our dining room floor, I painted the shapes into the background of the illustration. Without connection to the piece, I feel like I’m just going through the motions and then the work feels empty.