I’m thick in progress of completing my latest tree painting in the Through the Mystic Series, and I’m stumped. This challenge is something I really didn't expect, as the others have been so fluid. And unlike I normally do, I've taken to the pen ahead of its completion to figure out why this last bit has become so unclear. The process of these new paintings is like a journal to me. I paint and then look back and see what's been going on in my head and my heart. It's like a visual representation of my emotions. But this piece, for some reason, is blocked...
When I started this painting I was fully prepared. I had a clear direction, a sketch to work from and reference photos I took while hiking in these beautiful forests. I also had my new colour theory book by Stephen Quiller—which I'm absolutely in love with— and my plan for use of light. I thought that the light in the painting would end up being the focal point and when it was sketched out, it looked beautiful. And then the painting began and I started to feel that dreaded feeling: a block! I returned to my sketchbook for further re-working. Blocked. More sketches. Still blocked!
Sometimes a sketch doesn’t translate well in a painting. Things may have to be tweaked because of scale and colour. “Ok, that's cool”, I'm telling myself because I know this from many years of painting. So I'm good, and I’m not panicked… it's part of the process and sometimes can lead to new and wonderful additions to a painting. If you’re a new painter you may find this part scary. But I encourage you to push through this part. Beautiful magic happens here.
But beautiful magic hasn’t been happening and I can't seem to resolve it. So what does this mean? Well, it must be emotional. So I've decided to step back and look at what's going on deep within myself. I’m also setting up a mentoring session with a fellow artist to help me with the painting blocks. Mentoring is an invaluable tool in my toolbox and one that I encourage any artist to use. As a professional artist, you always need to be learning, growing and seeking advice or workshops or mentoring—no matter what stage of your career you are in. At the moment, Kindrie Grove, at Matheson Grove Gallery is my mentoring resource. When I was in Calgary, Amy Dryer was my girl; both are amazing artists and friends. I too offer artist mentoring, and it’s something I really love… More on that at the end of this post.
So, what’s the block? Why am I struggling? This is the million dollar question, isn't it? As I’m diving in deep into my emotions, I’m realizing there’s a lot going on. My marriage has ended and I’ve also recently met the love of my life. Two significant and yet very polarized emotions. Now just because I’m in a new relationship, it doesn't mean that I get to simply forget all the stuff from my broken marriage and move on to glory and fun. Quite the opposite really. I need to hold both sadness and fresh new love at the same time—and it’s incredibly hard… Giving myself the time and space to grieve and work through all of these emotions is important to my healing. But honouring this new relationship and the importance of it is fundamental to my being and our future. So, how does one grieve and be in love at the same time without dishonouring either process?
Usually, I paint, write, workout and walk in nature to process my emotions. Since winter is not my thing, hikes and walks aren’t available right now. Working out is my saving grace, and writing is awesome, but my painting is stuck… I really need to paint and so I’m going to start a new series of portraits for my collaboration project with Lisa Hall: Awesome People By lisa’s “Power Girls” series. These portraits are free, explosive and fun paintings where I'm not hung up on colour or texture. Unlike the trees which need to represent something personal to me, these fun paintings will help me let go a little more. Awesome People by lisa is excited to be launching its new website soon, and Power Girls are a key part of it. We hope you’ll be inspired through the stories of our Power Girls who are everyday women who live awesome lives and inspire greatness. Stay tuned for more about Awesome People by lisa soon. But now back to what is it about this new tree painting that is blocking me. Let’s look at it, shall we…
The path that goes to the top of a little hill is full of wonder. It represents whatever you want it to. Freedom, openness, magic… There is nothing beyond that space in the painting, it's open to interpretation—it’s also a focal point. The trees on the left which are thick and vast and full of old growth, making them hard to get around; but the light is shining through, so you can see your way. The trees are intriguing and inviting, but not as much as the path leading you up to that open space. On the right is new growth—a fallen tree with lots of ferns and a nurse log giving its life to replenish and protect. Ferns are growing and flourishing playfully along this area. But the path keeps leading you up to that open space. That empty space… the focal point of this piece. That empty space… Open to interpretation….
That empty space is the block! What is that space representing to me? Rather than freedom and wonderment, it feels way too open and vast for me. I’m not finished with my last relationship; this letting go of the past. I have some loose ends of course, but I also haven't finished grieving the loss of something that really was wonderful at one point. Why else would I have been there if it wasn't?
Grief… there, I guess that's the answer for the block. Grief takes its time and can last as long as it lasts. And pushing isn't gonna help. I have a choice to just finish the painting, put the emotions aside and not think about all this. But that's not my way. I can't honour my new relationship properly if I don't honour the past. As I move through this forest of life, I never want to give up the process of remembering how my past experiences and decisions have shaped my life and made me who I am. This process is what grounds me to this earth and my spiritual path. And I honour myself and those around me in this process.
Now that I’ve figured out my painting block, the tree painting is moving happily along and will be finished in the next couple of weeks. I’m offering a pre-sale to all my Patrons and will take 10% off the regular price if you purchase it by March 1st. It’s a gorgeous 36” x 60” piece, regularly priced at $4,200. Prints will be available in the near future too.
Thanks for listening, love and gratitude,