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 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!
Barbara Foss · March 4, 2023 at 9:23 pm
Your art forms/presentations are lovely and always have been. This continuation in the present is lovely. Thank you for sharing all of this!
dianeatwood · March 4, 2023 at 9:27 pm
Jackie Conn · March 5, 2023 at 6:05 am
I love your paintings!
dianeatwood · March 5, 2023 at 9:01 am
Thanks, Jackie, trying to push myself!
Sharon Bearor · March 5, 2023 at 8:56 am
Great article from a great person with a great heart and artful mind.
dianeatwood · March 5, 2023 at 9:00 am
Jill McDonald Halsey · March 5, 2023 at 11:51 am
I’m so excited for you Diane! To feel that kind of passion is a gift at any stage of life. Looking forward to watching your progress! Xoxo
dianeatwood · March 5, 2023 at 12:03 pm
Thank you, Jill. Now that I’ve started up the blog again, it will help hold me accountable!
Susanne Arvidson · March 5, 2023 at 12:08 pm
I am so excited for you? What a lovely place you are at in your life. It’s been a very long time since we both lived on Houlton Street. We both have been blessed with careers that have brought us satisfaction. Marriage’s that have filled our hearts and the time to find our passions and contentment in our retirement. I belong to a writer’s group and I’ve become a bridge addict and life is good. We are two lucky women or maybe it’s that we are two women who found their voices.
For my 75th birthday this past summer, Russ and I went to Portland Maine and stayed at the West End bed and breakfast. After we checked in, we walked a few blocks to Houlton Street. It was a trip down memory lane and seeing our old houses in such disrepair was a little pull on my heart strings. However, the Innkeeper reminded me that it’s just a matter of time before those houses will be bought and renovated. We noticed that there were already several homes close to Houlton Street that are being renovated. Portland has changed so much since I left in 1967, but you’ve been privileged to be part of the growth and you’ve bloomed with the city.
Keep sharing those paintings with us
Lizz Sinclair · March 5, 2023 at 1:08 pm
Diane- I am thrilled for you! You are inspiring me as I, too, work on getting back into a daily practice painting and creating. So so happy to know you are full to bursting as you grow and keep creating! Lizz
Meg Haskell · March 5, 2023 at 4:09 pm
Really interesting, Diane, and inspiring, too! Looking forward to following your progress.
Brian Fox · March 8, 2023 at 6:32 pm
This is fantastic! Lili is retiring from teaching at the end of the school year and I hope she finds something like this to help her transition into the next phase of her life. Thanks for sharing!