The Next Chapter

I’ve always viewed my life as a book – when one chapter finishes, the page turns, and a new one starts. This time last year, I was desperately trying to get on my boss’s calendar so I could let him know I was resigning. It would take me 3 weeks to pin him down, a fact that still gives me a chuckle. Fast forward one year, and I’m happily working on what is now my next career.

I am an artist.

Which, I must say, has surprised the hell out of both me and my family. As you can read in this blog, I took a drawing class as a form of stress therapy. I had no idea I was going to find a passion to carry me through the rest of my life.

It has been ridiculously easy for the most part. Yes, I’ve had to work, and work hard at it, but I’m enjoying it immensely. I like to get up in the morning, and I now look forward to Mondays – – I can’t remember EVER having said that.

I’ve become very comfortable with the medium of pastels, and made a shocking discovery – people want to own my stuff. I was working next to the open doors of the studio – to get the best light on a rainy day – one class last month, and a perfect stranger walking by asked if I’d sell him the pastel landscape I was just finishing. It was my moment of realization that this could be more than just a hobby.

My next thought was, if I’m going to turn this into something tangible, what would be my focus?

I’ve decided I really like portraits, and find the intricasies of the human face very interesting. My mentor has me copying Old Masters, saying it’s one of the  best ways to learn. I didn’t expect anyone to want one of these copies, but my take on one of the self portraits of Louise Vigée LeBrun will now grace the wall of my friend Stacy’s powder room. I have succeeded in producing Bathroom Art.image

Still life painting isn’t my favorite, but it’s been a great learning experience. I honestly didn’t think anyone would want my practice drawings, but was surprised to find someone does. My aunt and uncle decided they wanted this teapot, and it’s now framed in their breakfast room.image

This apothecary jar I picked up over 25 years ago in the Paris antique market looks pretty good with a couple of Satsuma mandarin oranges. I was really happy with it, and even more surprised that it was good enough for people to see. My husband has this hanging in his office at work.image

And the painting that random guy wanted to buy? It’s not for sale. My husband decided to keep it, and he’s trying to figure out where in the house he wants it to go. I must say, I’m really happy with this one. It’s of a horse ranch in a neighboring town at twilight. A lingering glimpse of life here before it became Silicon Valley. I’ve decided landscapes are a favorite of mine – enough to do a lot more in the future, and focus on this in my studies.image

The feature image on this post was done from a picture given to me by my talented photographer friend Jerry in Luxembourg – he went to Cuba on holiday last year, and snapped the picture that inspired this painting. I learned from this I really, really love painting skies. And oceans. It’s now being framed and will soon grace my son’s apartment.

There are years of studying ahead of me – technique, anatomy, theory and materials – and lots and lots of practice and experimentation. Not everything I do is good, but I’m putting out some pretty nice pieces – even at this early stage. I’ve just started working in oils this week, and while it’s daunting, I know I’m going to love it. I’m not giving up pastel work. I know now there are things I can do with pastels that can’t be replicated with oils, and I want to continue to explore that side of my talent. I paint or draw for at least 2-3 hours each weekday, with about the same in study. Each painting is better than the one before it, which is encouraging. I’m learning something new every day, and I’m taking this very seriously.

I’ve changed personally in the last 6 months since I started this journey. When I see a sunset, or a frothing ocean, I don’t just enjoy it. I try to figure out what the values are, and what pigments I would use to replicate it. I’m different from who I was this time last year.

I am an artist.

Paul, one of my high school friends, told me “You’ve always been an artist. It just took a little work to set her free.” He’s right. I’m freer now than I have ever been. Happier too.

I really like this Thing Called Retirement. Now, I have to get back to my current pastel, and work on some sea foam. I’ll be back soon. image