February 2019: Let's Catch Up

Hello! Long time, no see!

And just like that, 2019 is charging ahead at full force, and I’m happy to be back updating you all on my studio happenings! As I mentioned in my last newsletter, I started my year off by working with Marianne Mitchell, another local painter as my professional development coach. We are half way through our committed time together, and so far our meetings have been incredibly insightful and are already refining my understanding of what it means for me to be a painter. I fully anticipate this season of exploring and reflecting to remain at the forefront of my mind throughout this year of painting, if not longer.

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Left: previous versions

Right: final version of “Still Life with Ceramic Vessel” 20x30 oil on canvas 2018

If you follow me on social media, you’ve already seen the above painting “finished” TWICE now. Well third time’s the charm, and this time I think it will stick! This painting was such a challenge for me to resolve and therefore, a great learning experience.

When initially creating the painting, I was only thinking about how I could make a more dynamic composition, one that had a stronger relationship between foreground and background. In doing this, I lost sight of the fact that I had wanted to make a painting of the large ceramic vessel, the only truly successful piece I made for that college project. So with the insight of my coach and a stronger awareness of what I valued in the painting, I had to reconsider how my composition was supporting those values and original inspiration. As you can see in the various versions, the background and part of the foreground were simplified, and some additional twigs were added to create more visual movement in the top half of the painting.

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With the new year, I am also continuing my commitment of attending a figure drawing session at least once a month. As with anything, the more you practice, the better your skills and confidence develop. Confidence is a big struggle for me when it comes to painting and drawing the figure, but I can already feel it getting easier. Lately, I’ve enjoyed working in pastels as a happy medium between drawing and painting. It has been years since I broke out my set of Rembrandt pastels, and it has been a delightful return to the material.

For those who are curious, I am using soft pastels. I have also used chalk pastels in the past, but I prefer the way soft pastels layer on top of one another in a very similar way to paint. Ironically, I have never been a big fan of using oil pastels, though they do provide lots of fun for kids’ art projects. Soft pastels are smoother than oil pastels and can be manipulated more easily once put on a surface.

Year 2019 is off to a great start, and I am excited for all the opportunity and growth it is already bringing. I am hopeful for good news over the next few months regarding shows, grants, and residencies, and of course, will share as I know more.

Until next time, I wish you all a love-filled February and continued hope for a great year to come.

—Lauren