Staying in place

Sadly, the Airstream sits parked in Boulder just as everyone is else is parked in their homes as well.  All our trips are cancelled and on hold until we can get back out there, so I thought it would be a good time to share my latest painting series that I am working on in the studio. 

Something I discovered long ago is that I generally prefer to paint while I am happy.  This is unusual because a lot of well-known artist painted in turmoil or sadness to express their emotions.  When the Corona Virus really started to ramp up here in the US, I was in Mexico at my happy place (Rancho La Puerta) where I usually go once a year to recharge.  This trip however was cut short and I flew home early to the pandemic, the stress’ of new life, no socializing (which for an extrovert is a huge struggle) and snow.  Yes, my first few says back at home were utterly depressing and I could not get myself to paint. 

I sat down and painted (and started a few now unfinished paintings) of my happy places.  It was nice to bring me back subconsciously to those fonder moments and feelings.  One painting is a half done watercolor scene of Italy (where I lived for 9 months) and the other is seen below from my last walk that I did at Rancho La Puerta the morning that I left.

I decided in this painting to play a little bit more and make the painting more whimsical and happier to express how I feel at that amazing place while focusing on the glorious trees.  I find that I am freer and looser in my painting when I am working with my palette knife instead of my brushes as is shown in this painting. 

Magical Walk

The next few days we got dumped on with snow. As I begrudgingly took our dog for a walk, I found beauty.  I stopped and took photos and really looked at the scenes to try and record mentally my feelings, colors, and movement that is lost in photos.  I came home, set up my easel and took an old painting that I did not like and decided to paint over it.  I have found it is very freeing to paint over old “bad” paintings because I have nothing to lose. I decided to try a new way of painting by putting in a base painting with darker, brighter colors and then paint over that.  When I do this technique, I scrape on a variety of colors with a very loose idea. I then step back often see something that I did not expect.  In the case of this painting below, I saw the abstract purple mountains in the distance.  I decided to keep those even they do not exist in that location and used my palette knife to start creating the more impressionistic scene.  This painting is called “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” which I think not only symbolizes the weather but also my hope that these will be an end to the Corona Virus sooner than later.

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

The sun did come out and my mood improved. I decided to keep experimenting with this technique since I really like how the above painting came out.  The base of this painting was originally some Italian Villas (as can be seen in the rusty orange and maroon).  As I continued to add paint I saw mountains, streams and trees and voila the painting “Hidden Valley” came to be.

Hidden Valley

I was so inspired that I grabbed another old painting from my stash of rejects and started scraping left over paint from my palette onto a canvas.  I stepped back and could see a landscape with a waterfall.  I went through my gazillion photos taken over the years and found a few photos of waterfall and stream scenes and built on that.  This painting grew and changed and is purely a figment of my imagination but ultimately grew into “Winter Run Off”.

Winter Run Off

The following week we again got an unusual amount of snow for April, but the sun came out quickly and it was magical.  I bundled up and headed out the door with my trusty dog Buddy and headed for the trails of Boulder.  On our drive to the trails I had to pull over many times for photos.  It was one of those strikingly beautiful days in Colorado. There are a few old barns that I have always admired on my drive out to these locations, and with them covered in fresh snow and glistening light I had to stop.

I came home excited and ready to paint.  I started this background with scraping on colors that are more complimentary (opposite on the color wheel) to what I was going to paint.  I knew that when I started to cover up the background with my image I could scrape through the acrylic paint to get hints of color.  I also wanted to really accentuate the roughness, colors and lighting on the barn so I added copper paint and added some darker blues. Here is a photo of the base layer and some of the steps along the way as well as the final painting.  I was so pleased with the result that I had to create another one which is one the easel now.

After The Storm – The progression of the painting

I think this new series of paintings really reflects some of my agitation with being “locked” inside our home while being surrounded by beauty.

I hope you and your loved ones are all healthy and staying sane.  Enjoy my visions and if you have any questions or feedback about my latest paintings, please feel free to share them with me.  I’d love your thoughts!

4 Comments on “Staying in place

  1. Sue, Your art work has always been lovely and over the years I see such a wonderful transformation happening! Change is inevitable, and you are indeed tuning into this, thus making beauty out of it.
    Be well my friend ❤️


  2. Sue,

    Loving your blog. You are developing as a writer and your paintings are more intuitive feeling. Loving all of them. Great job.




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