As I mentioned in my last blog post, at the Phoenix Art Museum, I happened upon a great sketching opportunity - a lovely dancer in frequently changing dynamic poses. I love to draw from life. Drawing from photos just doesn't compare. Only in life does one get such light and space. In the process of visualizing the shapes and angles in three-dimensional space, I lose myself. Only a live model brings her life energy to the sketch. As you could see from my last blog, I spent hours in quick sketches, but wanted more. So I asked her to model for me. She liked the idea too! I was thrilled. Here is a figure drawing of Stephanie during our first studio time together. What a fabulous model Stephanie is - beautiful inside and out. We plan to have more sessions in the months to come. I'll share my drawings and you'll get to enjoy her more too.
On Wednesday, an unexpected delight fell from the sky in Phoenix - graupel. Graupel is a form of soft hail – a mix of ice and snow. Out of the blue, in the middle of the afternoon, a storm broke pelting rooftops and blanketing the city in white. At a local school, classroom doors were thrown open. Throngs of amazed children rushed to see the unbelievable. This couldn't happen, but it did. The whole city came alive. It was as though an entire population was witnessing a miracle and the remarkable energy was palpable. No one could recollect snow falling on a February afternoon in Phoenix, "the city that rose from ashes".
Tiny sparkling pellets of ice accumulated on every horizontal surface. They reminded me of diamonds. Yes, on Wednesday, diamonds fell from the desert sky.
What an unexpected gift, sent to remind me that anything is possible. The whole experience generated the wonder that I feel in every painting. I revel in the flow of water into unpredictable patterns that merge into lines and hues that I never could have designed. This is the exhilaration of painting with water media.
I am reminded to embrace each moment – to remain open to finding the value in each brushstroke and the flow that results from every spritz of water. If I stay stuck in that which I already know, I cannot discover that which I seek. If I fear the unknown, then I will block that which the universe offers. Graupel in Phoenix reminded me to stay open to the new and to embrace the unfamiliar. Experimentation fuels innovation. There are no mistakes – only discoveries.
I’m working on a new painting called “Stepping Out”. The image came to me weeks ago, before I realized that I would actually be “stepping out”. But for me, this is the way with drawing. My soul knows before my mind or my hand. Anyway, a few days ago, playing with texture, I overworked the ground before it was dry. There was a yucky rough spot on the surface. Throwing caution to the balmy breeze, I experimented with a strategy that I had not previously considered when painting - wet sanding with a fine sandpaper. To my delight, the rough spot easily smoothed while at the same time offering some effects that I liked. See photo. I don’t yet know where it will go from here, but in the midst of sanding, for a moment, I uncharacteristically stepped outside of the process of sanding long enough to realize that this might be interesting to someone other than me. Later, considering this moment, I realized that I have had a lifetime habit of putting one foot in front of the other without considering whether my actions may be worthy of noting or describing to anyone else. In fact, I have generally viewed attracting as little attention to myself as possible as an effective means of maintaining my freedom. I don't know if this is a general characteristic of the pre-social media baby-boomers like me or, instead, a trait specific to introverts.
Either way, I have decided that to blog successfully, when going about daily life, I must continue to cultivate the awareness to step outside of a moment long enough to determine if what I'm doing may be of interest or use to others. So, in a way, this blog is a “multi-level opportunity”. Writing down the episodes of my journey, I will share ideas and images that seem to want to be in the light. Though I forgot this past weekend when we spent the day perusing the merchandise of myriad Quartszite vendors, I will not give up. I will keep trying to remember to take and ask others to take more photos. My days won’t appear to change much. Only my self-awareness will increase. Doodling, sketching, and painting will continue. Walking Henry, cooking dinner, answering email, appointments, minding the gallery; life will go on as usual. But in this blog, I will open a window through which I will peer inside my own life in the same way as you, an outsider looking in. You are welcome. Opening a window of your own, perhaps you’ll reply. My sincere thanks to those who already have.