On My Journey Home

“On My Journey Home,” 30×40 inches, mixed media (acrylic, collage, oil, and cold wax).

We laugh and we laugh and there is nothing else like it in the world.

A beautiful opportunity presented itself last June and after giving it some deep thought, I accepted a commission to create a painting in honor of a loved one who had passed.  My collector (and friend) knew she wanted the piece to include collage and paint, but was open to how I would incorporate the two. We met at my house a couple of times to look through photos, passports, music, and ephemera, which all represented an interesting and rich life. I got a better idea of what she was thinking and proposed that I include words throughout the process, along with an initial layer of collage. It was agreed that the words and collage would imbue the piece with the spirit of this person, but the next layers would be an abstract landscape to reflect the color and vibrancy of a life lost too soon.

After I had a chance to go through the stacks of materials, we met again to make a few more decisions, giving me clarity of which original documents I would use to energize the painting. I decided I would create two paintings alongside each other so my collector would have a choice between which piece resonated with her the most. I chose to work on cradled panels:  24×36 inches and 30×40 inches.

Over several months, the two boards were painted, writing added, a second layer of paint, bigger and bolder words added, and then a complete layer of collage, with just snippets of the underlying words peeking through.

The process of alternating layers of acrylic paint with words continued, and eventually I began to focus on the composition, moving toward an abstracted landscape. I was pleased, but not satisfied, so in a fit of knowing I wasn’t finished, I took both boards to the back yard and using an electric sander, sanded the surface of both paintings, revealing the various layers as I sanded. Snippets of words, paint, and even some of the earlier layers of collage were revealed.

All sanded and ready for oil and cold wax to be applied.
Sanding in process. Gulp.
Collage, acrylic paint, and words sanded back to reveal earlier layers.
Collage, acrylic paint, and writing, sanded back to reveal earlier layers.
Layers, layers, layers. Sanded back reveal some of those layers.

It was around this time I decided I would switch mediums and move to applying layers of oil paint mixed with cold wax. The vibrancy of oil and cold wax and the rich luminosity of the materials seemed like the right choice. I took the smaller of the two boards with me to Sitka Center for Art and Ecology in early September, where I was teaching a four-day workshop in oil and cold wax. I taught during the day, and then when the students went home for the night, I went into the studio and worked on the 24×36 inch piece, building layers of oil and cold wax.

“Trying So Hard to Listen,” after converting to oil and cold wax while at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology.
Working on “Trying So Hard to Listen” while at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology on the Oregon Coast.
“Trying So Hard to Listen,” after converting to oil and cold wax.

When I got home, I continued to work on “Trying So Hard to Listen,” with more layers of oil and cold wax.

“Trying So Hard to Listen” in process after converting to oil and cold wax.

I completed the 24×36 inch piece on October 4, 2021, and titled it “Trying So Hard to Listen.”

“Trying So Hard to Listen,” 24×36 inches, mixed media (acrylic, collage, oil, and cold wax).

I had also started to add layers of oil and cold wax to the larger piece, “On My Journey Home.”

Early layers of oil and cold wax, “On My Journey Home.”
“On My Journey Home,” in progress.
Adding texture to “On My Journey Home.”
Work in progress.
Refining “On My Journey Home.”

The larger piece, 30×40 inches, was completed on my birthday, October 14, and I titled it “On My Journey Home.”

“On My Journey Home,” 30×40 inches, mixed media (acrylic, collage, oil, and cold wax).

My wonderful friend and collector decided she wanted both of the paintings and in mid December, the paintings were delivered and hung. It was such an honor to see them hanging, knowing that they each had multiple layers of images, words, and paint and reflected emotional energy, love, and memories of a life well lived.

“On My Journey Home,” in its place of honor above the fireplace.
“Trying So Hard to Listen,” in its bright, beautiful space.

A journey of discovering that I love people, I love myself, I love my secrets.

Obsessive Quarantining Activity

Before all hell broke loose, I registered for Nicolas Wilton’s popular 12-week ART2LIFE Creative Visionary Program. If you aren’t familiar with it, here’s how Nicolas explains it:

The program is designed for beginner to advanced artists who are interested in significantly shifting and improving their art. This program will guide you into a better understanding of your own unique creative expression. Over the 12 weeks, we will be taking a deep dive into all the 6 Art2Life Principles – Design, Value, Color, Texture, Risk and Soul.

Gaining a thorough understanding of the nuances and interconnectedness of these fundamental principles will allow you to have tremendous creative freedom in any kind of art-making you desire to pursue. Whether you paint realistically or abstractly, draw, paint, collage or any combination of the three, this intensive program will give you all the tools you need. The program is principle-based and its primary purpose is to clarify and strengthen your own authentic creative expression.

The program and the Art2life team of coaches provides you with an amazing community of supportive artists, concise ways to create a more sustainable,  joyful art practice and most importantly, the fundamental art-making principles to finally bring your Art to life.

The program is intensive and to do it even nominally, requires several hours a week, and that is without doing any painting. Then, all hell broke loose when Covid-19 began gaining ground and I found myself with extra time to jump all in to the ART2LIFE Creative Visionary Program. However, this post isn’t about the program, but about how Nicholas has all of his paints in squeeze bottles, often the type that restaurants use for ketchup and mustard. One of the benefits of using the squeeze bottles is the consistency of the paint, not too thin (fluid paints don’t work for this program) and not too thick (like tube paints). Nicolas has his own line of paint that are the perfect consistency, but Nicholas is generous with information and he has shared how to get paint to the right consistency.

For the past two weeks, I have been on a mad tear sorting all of my paints, throwing out old dried up ones, and then combining like colors into a mixing bowl, whipping, stirring, adding mediums and water, and then pouring my energized and reformulated paints into plastic condiment bottles. Most of the time I mixed like colors together, even if they were from different brands, but sometimes I just mixed up an assortment of colors, like several different greens, which after mixing I dubbed “Weirdo Green.”

It has consumed me, it’s been messy, but the end result is a beautiful cacophony of colors. No more excuses not to paint.

A side benefit in the clean up process, is that I started wiping excess paint onto a large canvas and I’ve ended up with a vibrant first layer.