Studio Check-In #5 — Finding Time for Art in My Messy New Schedule

We’re continuing to move toward something like normal here in Illinois; we’ve been officially given the green light to open most businesses to the public again by May 29 (though some, like the library, are taking it slower and going in phases). I’m nearly back to my pre-pandemic number of hours at work since we started our curbside service, though we’ve been signing up for shifts instead of keeping a set schedule, which takes a little more effort to keep track of. Also, it was surprising how tired I felt after just a couple hours my first time back in the building. Here I thought I was doing pretty well at keeping active during all this, what with my ballet classes twice a week and walks around the neighborhood and stuff, though I guess I’ve known deep down that I wasn’t as active as I used to be.

Still, I’m making art, though a bit more sporadically. I have two “big” paintings in progress this month (I think of anything I do that’s 11″x14″ or larger as “big”). Here’s what I’ve been working on:

First, I discovered and took some pictures of some lilacs in our back yard, and chose a picture to base a painting off of. Most of the paintings I do are things I would hang on my own wall, but I’m especially looking forward to having this one up. Here’s the drawing I did, which I enlarged to a 16″ x 20″ painting (hence the grid marks).

And here’s the full size painting in progress. I took my pictures on a sunny day, so there’s some nice dramatic shadows and shades of purple that will eventually (hopefully) come through.

I’m trying out the bigger Arches brand watercolor paper that I got back at the beginning of shelter-in-place. I thought I bought the “good” tape, but it looks like it’s not actually very good after all.

The second painting I’ve been working on is from a drawing I shared last month, and, to be honest, I started painting it mainly so I’d have some progress to show here. So, in a way, this monthly check-in is keeping me accountable, which is great.

Green Tractor, 11″ x 15,” also on Arches paper

One of my favorite parts of painting is the shading that makes a 2D object look 3D. It’s so satisfying when it starts to pop off the page. The tires and treads in this one are particularly challenging, which is fun, and I’m pretty excited about how they’re turning out so far (I’m not done with them yet, of course). I’m not sure how much of the background/foreground grass and weeds I want to put in — I drew them in the initial sketch, but the painting might be strong enough without them.

And finally, here’s one from the “DNF” (Did Not Finish) files, which you might also remember from last month’s check-in. I was hoping these would turn out as well as my strawberries did, but I think I started off all wrong with my chosen technique. I may eventually try again, but for now, on to other things.

I’m usually the one who wrestles with something until I bend it to my will, or else I find a way to adapt it into something that looks like it was on purpose. Every once in awhile, though, I have to admit defeat.

How do you decide when to give up on a creative project if it’s not turning out? How many attempts are you willing to make before you move on to something else? I rarely leave something unfinished on purpose, but it feels like the right choice this time.

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