Somebody’s Listening

My students are a never-ending source of inspiration.  Yesterday’s lesson for my youngest student was on still life.   I put out several pieces of artificial fruit, and several bowls.  She was to pick three pieces of fruit and one bowl, and make a still life she would like to paint.    To her credit, and her good eye, she picked an apple, the grapes, a pear, and a deep blue bowl.  She put the apple and the grapes in the bowl, and the pear down on the table next to the bowl.  Nice looking still life.

She worked on a drawing, making her shapes larger than usual, making me happy.  Nice job, I commented.  She got her big grin.  She tends to draw things small, then has difficulty when it’s time to paint.

Unafraid to change things, she decided she wanted a window behind the fruit bowl.  That would make her painting a still life and a landscape, she announced, grinning again.  And if she added someone looking at the bowl, it would be a portrait, landscape and still life.  Wow, she was really connecting the dots.

When the paints started flying, I reminded her to put her shadows in.   She darkened the bottom of the pear and bowl, but directly underneath them.  I pointed out that the shadow was going to the right.  She quickly reminded me that she’d put the window in behind the still life, so the shadow would be cast right where she’d painted them.   It was my turn for the big grin.  She’s been listening all along.

Good Day Sunshine

Good Day Sunshine, Watercolor collage 19″ x 13″

In the magic that is my studio, I was getting some paintings ready for a show.  They were already framed.  No idea why I opened one of the Boxes.

Ah, the Boxes. The home of wayward paintings.  Practice paintings, paintings that have done the show circuit, those that have been framed and unframed, perhaps listed on Etsy, those I never liked or no longer like.  Hidden from sight in the Boxes, they represent both failure and progress.  The yin and yang of art.

They nag at me even though they are “hidden”.  They clutter up my closet, they are more “stuff”.  My poor niece will have to deal with them when I’m gone.  What the devil will she do with them? She couldn’t possibly frame and hang them all.   How bad will she feel when she throws them in the trash?

As I’ve gone through the Boxes many times, I am very familiar with their content. Why had I painted that nasty grass next to that funky rooster.  Oh my god, there are those sunflowers again – lots of them – must have needed a lot of practice with them!  Ooops, there’s another rooster….can’t stand the background on that one.  Didn’t I just paint another rooster….the pointillism exercise……….where is that painting…..could they all go together?

And so the scattering, snipping, and gluing began, on the floor mind you.  And where was that painting with the yellow mat and frame. What a great frame that would be. It had been around the show scene years ago.

Because I have used the same limited palette for several years now, with an occasional variation, my paintings share the same colors. The collage appears to at least have some cohesion.  The sunflower on the right hand side reminded me of the sun. Roosters conjure up the beginning of the day. Using some of the paintings from the Boxes made for a good day. Made me happy, made me smile.

Sing along with me now, “Good Day, Sunshine….Good Day Sunshine…..”