We've had some cloudy and rainy conditions the past few days, which has impacted my painting efforts. Regardless, over the weekend, I started laying in paint on a large painting showing a specific perspective of the Japanese bridge. I did an elaborate underdrawing on the canvas which allowed me to start painting without having to figure out the perspective lines. I'm still in the early stages of the painting but I wanted to share some photos since seeing the process can be interesting and educational for others.
One of my goals for this residency is to do larger paintings en plein air; I've had this in mind since arriving in Giverny. My only limitation involved the logistics of carrying the canvas and setting up in the garden in a way that wouldn't inhibit the gardeners. I'm definitely at the maximum size canvas that I can handle within these parameters.
If you're thinking about doing some larger paintings then I have some strategies to share. The first thing that I'll say is that I applaud anyone who paints on a large scale. It's one of the greatest challenges as a painter. I know size can be subject, but to me anything over 3 feet qualifies as large.
A main thing to remember is that a large painting requires more paint and more time. More paint is obvious, but remember that the time factor also includes preparation and preliminary work on the painting. Cutting corners or starting something willy nilly won't turn out well. It's good to start a larger painting with a clear plan of attack. Think about it like writing: writing a short story is very different than writing a 800 page novel (or so I'd imagine).
With that being said, I feel that it's important to do something ambitious in order to expand my comfort zone. Even if it doesn't work out, at least I've tested my limits and I can gain the confidence and reference experience. For me, I've started to become more accustomed to larger canvases as I figure out what works for me. However, I needed to laugh at myself when I went to the Louvre and Versailles and saw these paintings which are like 20 feet by 30 feet. But those paintings were usually group efforts which would take months or years.. so it's not fair to compare myself that way.
Anyway, I encourage you to push yourself and explore new ways of working. If you start something, then follow it through and don't give up halfway. I guess this applies to things other than painting, but if you want to try something ambitious in your life then try and see what happens!
It's been a month since I began my journey as Artist-in-Residence at Claude Monet's estate in Giverny, France. I feel like the time has gone by quickly, but I also feel like I've been here much longer than one month. I guess that's because I've been so busy and I've put a lot of effort into this past month. Painting nearly every day, getting up early and adjusting to life in a different country has really expanded my boundaries. It's made me feel very strong.
The ever-present thought in my mind and the feeling I have is complete gratitude. I'm so grateful that I can be here and do what I love every single day. I'm also aware of the fact that my family and friends back home are thinking about me. I am also thinking about them every day.
So far, I have painted a lot (both oils and watercolors) in addition to keeping a sketchbook and journal to document my experience. Artistically, I've had ups and downs, but I'm feeling very positive about my pieces. Painting en plein air in the gardens and around Giverny has really been an unbelievable experience. My other project is that I am writing an on-going memoir that I want to edit and have published once I'm back in the US.
I'm not sure how many people reading this are painters or doing anything artistic, but I want to also say something in regards to following passions. I know how difficult it can be to make sacrifices in pursuit of a dream. There's so much involved just to do something that sounds relatively simple. For me: I just want to keep painting and teaching; but it's an unorthodox career and I've had to work a lot harder because of that. It's simple, but never easy.
I just want to send a message of encouragement to anyone reading this who has a passion, a dream or something that they want to achieve. It could be something simple or something more complicated, but I encourage you to keep pursuing it. It's easy to get discouraged and to lose motivation, but remember to follow your own heart even if others tell you it won't work. It's good to listen to others (especially loved ones) but remember that not everyone knows what's best for you. I try as much as I can just to look at things with my own eyes and to think my own thoughts.
I'm sitting outside in the courtyard now and it's evening time so I better get ready for bed. Poppy (our local cat) is looking to get petted and I'm feeling really at peace here. I wonder what the next 2 months are going to bring as I continue on this journey. Thank you for following along with me.
"Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway."