March 4, 2023. Yes, today’s the day I feel like writing this blog again. It’s mid-afternoon here in Maine. It’s been snowing ever since I woke up this morning. I’ve been painting. I try to paint every day and it feels so wonderful.
I began the My Late Start blog in 2013 after I entered the art program at the University of Southern Maine. I managed to keep it up for about three years, writing about what I was learning and profiling other artists. I feel comfortable writing the word “other” now. Because I see myself as an artist. I make art. I love making art. I am an oil painter. I am an artist.
Going to school and seeing it through until I finally graduated in 2021 was the right thing for me to do. I learned so much. But until this past October, I hardly ever painted. My personal life and my work always came first. Personal life still comes first, but I stepped away from my work as a full-time health blogger and became a nearly full-time painter. (I still have a podcast and send out a monthly newsletter, which I also love doing.)
As for painting, October 13 was my deadline to stop writing my Catching Health blog and start painting. A significant day, because it was my 75th birthday. Can’t believe it, but that’s for another story!
Since October, I’ve been wicked busy. If you’re from away and don’t know, wicked is a Maine term. First on my list was to get our one-time guest room, now my studio, in order. I chose a deep grey-green for the walls and persuaded my really good at painting rooms husband to do the job.
We bought an inexpensive rug because that vibe “speaks” to me. A busy print to camouflage spills.
My brother-in-law Bill, who is a master carpenter, built these amazing shelves for all the canvases I’ve practiced on over the years and feel comfortable recycling.
Once the room was done, I dove in with both feet and a heart filled with joy and anticipation. I may have learned a lot over the years, but I have never had a serious practice. If you want to be good/better at anything, you have to practice and practice and practice. That is what I’m doing.
I’ve been studying other artists whose style I appreciate, taking online workshops, and painting. Right now, I’m in the middle of an online course offered by Duane Keiser, who is a well-known daily painter. Check out his amazing work at DuaneKeiser.com. Blows me away.
As part of the class, I’ve embarked on what I consider my first serious project — doing a daily painting for 30 days. I paint simple still lifes on small panels and try to do them as quickly as possible, some 20 minutes, others up to three hours. It’s great practice. You can see the ones I’ve done so far clustered together atop the fabulous drying shelves my husband made for me.
I can be hyper-critical of my work, only seeing what I did wrong or what I need to fix. I believe I share that trait with lots of people! What I’ve been working on is to do an honest critique of each piece, but to also find something that I like.
Take this carafe of wine for instance, which was a quick painting. Lots to fix here, BUT I think I did a decent job on the dark curved line just above the neck.
Feeling pretty good, in general, about my olives. I could point out several things I could work on, but the beauty of my daily painting project is once it’s done, it’s done, no fussing. On to the next day!
A golden beet from the winter market. It needs more dark near the top of the lower third, but I really like the orange color and my brush strokes. For some reason, I enjoy trying to paint beets. I will paint more!
I am struggling to find the words to express how I feel about making the decision to focus on painting. The closest I can come is that I feel as if I am expanding, bursting. I look at nearly everything in a different way. Where is the light coming from? What are the shapes? The value contrasts? If I were going to paint that, what would I leave out? Make the focal point? I think about how something makes me feel and how I might be able to that feeling into my painting.
When I’m done with the daily paintings in about two weeks, I plan to do some slightly larger and looser paintings of scenes that speak to me — exterior and interior. Wish me luck!
In addition to writing about my own work and process, I would like to profile other people like me, who are embarking on some form of artistic expression later in life. Send me an email if you’re interested, and we can talk.
Before I go, here’s a picture of my three muses!