now

What am I working on now? Totally re-assessing my art practice to find a process that is deliriously happy to be confined to the studio.

White rabbit on white satin, acrylic on canvas, 30x21cm
White rabbit on white satin, acrylic on canvas, 30x21cm

Why? It’s winter, wet and cold, which doesn’t make painting outdoors much fun. (Heck, I’m hypothyroid, I am always feeling cold.) Actually that’s just an excuse. What’s really going on is that the last time I painted in the industrial area – I was spooked by strangers and didn’t feel safe. It played on my mind and procrastination set in. I couldn’t go back because I didn’t know how to fix it. I stopped painting for a while.

Once I accepted that I’m not going to get over it, I began seriously playing around with other ideas – all confined to the studio – looking for the entry to a new rabbit hole. So far it has been grey days and indecision. If I don’t paint, I have no work to sell and that means I have no income. That kind of pressure makes it even harder to tempt the muse.

It can’t be forced, so to keep working, I set and tackled a series of short projects:

  • built a new self-hosted website so I didn’t have to pay the Square Space bill (done! this is it)
  • found new sketching software and learned to use it (Autodesk Sketchbook, lots of fun)
  • explored the use of digital thumbnails to experiment with colour variations. Made heaps of them. It might save a step or two in the painting process and reduce the number of colour studies to something more reasonable
  • learned a new way to think about, and work with, my beloved greys – instead of buying them from Williamsburg paints or making my own (& tediously storing them in tubes or syringes) I decided to test all the blacks and whites I could find until I hit a pair that would mix neutral out of the tube (most of them are a bit blue or green or something). Success. Art Spectrum Transparent Black and Williamsburg Flake White. So simple. And I have enough on hand for plenty of work.
  • made test panels to find the best adhesive for canvas or linen on aluminium composite – it needs to be firmly adhered, but reversible and archivally sound
  • made storyboards for an animation. Very exciting, but it will have to wait until I can upgrade my Wacom from tablet to a Cintiq (which won’t happen until I make and sell some paintings). I am not making up to 1800 drawings per minute of animation without making it an immersive experience for me too.
  • ditched my journal software when it wouldn’t play nice with Windows 10 and I wanted to avoid buying the upgrade. Instead, I rescued a decade of entries and put them all in OneNote. It’s working well. Skimming over all those daily pages was an interesting exercise. Cringed a lot. Laughed a bit. Realised how nothing much changes.
  • that prompted me to drag out all my old sketchbooks too and discovered that, yes, there are veins of gold in those too

I think I’m on to something, but it needs some work

Daily schedule:

  • Up early to write 1k of journal words before tending the animals – this is a rural home – there are a lot of critters needing fresh bedding and breakfast
  • To the studio until late afternoon – to doggedly persist with the experiments – usually accompanied by the dog and several cats.
  • Gardening for an hour or so until the lack of light makes it impossible to continue. (That’s my idea of exercise.)
  • Chores and family care
  • The evening is spent reading, drawing and keeping up with social media

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This now page was prompted by Derek Sivers /now. I heard about it on John Dalton’s podcast interview with Kristy Gordon.