If you have been following my blog, you are aware that I have been working on a series of sky paintings in pastel. For those of you new to my blog, I will provide a brief recap. About 10 months ago, I took on the challenge of completing 24 small pastel studies in the time frame of one month. You can read about that here & here. I was very pleased with the results of that endeavor, so decided to use those studies as a springboard for creating twelve “finished” paintings so that by the end of this year, I could produce a calendar. To make a long story short, this led to the opportunity and planning of a solo show of my sky series that is now just a few months away.
When all is said and done, I will have devoted a full year plus to this series. As of this writing, I have just dropped off paintings 9 & 10 to my framer. My goal is to have paintings 11 & 12 complete by the end of the month. This will give me time to manage all the other tasks required to put on a solo show – design the invitations, begin the PR to get the word out, etc. This will also give me some time to design the calendar in time for the Fall.
One of the things that has surprised me through this project has been my ability to keep the momentum going. First, I rarely worked in a series. If I did, it was a series of 3 or 4. Done. And that was not usually planned. It just happened. I was the artist who would select an image from my vast collection of photo images, decide that I wanted to paint it, and then I would do it. Period. When complete, I would go back to my photos and start the process all over again. Occasionally the selected images had something in common, so I “sort of” had a series, but it was not nearly as focused as this past year has been.
The concept of completing a study-a-day over the course of a month was scary enough for me. To have had this idea grow into a year long passion of painting the same subject repeatedly has amazed me. I have been asked, and I have even asked myself, how I didn’t get bored with the same subject. Initially I thought that might happen, even with just the first 24 studies. How many sunsets could I paint, without it feeling repetitive and stale? I think it was about small study number 10 or 12, I had a fleeting moment when I felt that was it. I wasn’t going to make it. It was at that point, I began to consider sky photos that were eliminated in the first run through of my images. Skies with power lines. Skies with unusual cloud formations. Skies with dramatic and unexpected color shifts. All of these presented me with artistic challenges that erased any sense of boredom.
As I moved on to the larger, more finished paintings, I once again began to feel a sense of “oh no, this is feeling stale” as I approached painting #7. Up to this point, I had been basing each of the larger paintings on one of the earlier studies. I realized the problem was that I was trying to imitate what I loved about the earlier study. I was no longer painting freely and interpreting the scene before me. I was trying to copy what I had done earlier.
Back to my photos, I selected a handful of skies that I had not previously painted or even sketched. Although larger and not as quick, I was going to paint these new images with the freedom and bravado of the earlier studies. The strategy worked. The momentum was back. I am now 2 paintings away from my goal and I have far more sky images sitting on my drawing table that I want to paint. I even hopped in the car the other night when I could tell the sunset might be exceptionally interesting. I had little time before the sun would set, so I just headed to a local parking lot where the view might be better than at my home. Well, that was a win! I have discovered a new site to view sunsets that should prove lovely, regardless of the sun’s movement as the seasons change.
I look forward to painting new and different subjects soon, but I can guarantee that this sky series is one that will continue for quite some time. Mother Nature will continue to inspire!