Happy, Healthy New Year!
I usually do not change much on January 1st. Some make New Year's resolution(s), and want to start the New Year off doing something that they want to change. We all know people who suddenly start hitting the gym on January 1st. That is great, and I applaud anyone who gets inspired to take action that they have wanted to take but could not get themselves to do for any of an infinite amount of reasons. Well, this year I found myself doing something similar.
Lately, and for a variety of reasons, while I have not stopped looking at, and analyzing, my surroundings and nature as an artist, I have not painted as much as I wanted to. After watching some art videos, and looking at some of John Sargent's watercolors, I felt the urge to paint something moody with atmosphere, and chose a gray day at the beach.
I have spent a lot of time at this location, especially over the past few years, and really like the cool, gray days when a lot of people do not come down to the beach. It is a time where I feel like I am able to connect with nature directly, on a one-on-one feeling, and I really enjoy this mixture of solitude and feeling a part of nature. These seemingly conflicting feelings, of solitude and connection with nature, are what I wanted to create in my painting. This day, the sky had blue in it, but it was a cool, blue-gray.
This gray, atmospheric painting also helped me paint how I have been feeling in general lately, and connected me with how I used to paint when I first started art. When I first started teaching myself art, I found an artist who became one of my favorites, Joseph Zbukvic. He often paints using a lot of desaturated hues, and because I fell in love with his art at the very start of my art journey and practiced creating similar color mixes to his, these kinds of grays are among my favorites to create. So not only did painting this atmospheric painting match my current mood, it also reminded me of how I began in art and watercolor painting -- lots of mood and atmosphere, and lowering the saturation.
So I started off the New Year getting back to my painting roots, and was reminded that there are endless subjects to paint. And if I am not feeling "in the mood" to paint, perhaps looking for, and painting, a subject that matches my mood will help create my urge to paint. Or, stated another and more precise way, I was reminded that I can paint my current mood regardless of the subject.
If I was to paint a still life today of brilliant apples, oranges, or other fruit(s), perhaps I would purposely create a cooler background, and desaturate the hues of the fruit(s). In this manner, I am still capturing the scene and subject, but I am also communicating with the viewer my current feelings and mood through the atmosphere, color choices, and saturation levels of the painting.
While these are not new "revelations" for me, I find myself "learning" the same lessons over and over again, but each time I usually understand the lessons more acutely. Every time such a revelation occurs, I feel I gained a deeper and more meaningful understanding of this lesson and now I have "got it", only to find out later on that there are many more layers of meaning, understanding, and depth to these concepts. Life, and art, never cease providing more insight and distinctions so long as we are open to growing and to be doing certain actions that allow us to have these epiphanies. For me, this New Year's Day, by deciding to paint this cool, gray, atmospheric painting, I opened the door for this kind of learning, and thankfully new insights came to me.
May this New Year of 2024 bring all of us great health, peace, love, understanding, and connection with each other, ourselves, and with our art. And as Joseph Zbukvic is fond of saying, "Never give up", and "Just paint".