Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Okay, I admit it, I am stuck.  Teetering on a really wobbly plank and I cannot make that plank balance any more than I can tip it in the direction of success.  I can at any moment very unglamorously fall off.

I always believed I just had it.

No matter what.  

Now I realize, a bit too late that I too, like every other normal person out there can lose it.  I have lost it. 
Trouble is I need it now and no matter what I do to coax it from its shell, it is eluding me.  
I can paint pretty well.  No, I’m not Degas, Van Gogh, Matisse, Chagall, Leonardo, Warhol, or any of the other great geniuses, not even a modern day undiscovered one, but I can usually paint something that impresses someone.  Not so much, not right now. 
My genius (as classified by Elizabeth Gilbert in a TED presentation on creativity must be lost under the dust bunnies in some corner of my world.  I keep showing up to paint and my genius is not following.  Maybe it went on a trip…wish it took me with it, I could use a break.  Maybe it decided to find someone more worthy to attach itself to? 


All I know is panic is beginning to set in. 

And we are suffering.  Not the deep down true suffering that appears in so many people’s lives in death, in sickness, in war, in chaos, in violence.  But I am slowly going mental.  My kids look at me like I’ve grown 3 heads, My house is getting grimy, the laundry is overwhelming me.  My husband has this look of sympathy and I have developed a habit of screaming out loud (not really loud...not quite there yet!) for no apparent reason when what I am trying to coax out of my paintbrush repeatedly fails to transpire upon my canvas.  I 've also hit up a friend or two about my dilemma and if I keep this up eventually I'll become their plague. 

I have a goal and I am starting to believe I will not achieve it. 

I need to paint.  I want to paint WELL.  I don’t want to blow this and I’m afraid I’m going to. 

Meanwhile…my posts will become even more infrequent.  I cannot help this because I’m stubborn enough to keep trying.  I will paint every opportunity I get and I will either waste a pile of art supplies or I will eventually pull off a successful first ever studio tour.  Time will tell. Pray for me…I need it! 

Cheers, Jen

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Where's My Purple Paint?

I always lose my purple paint
                                               and I always need it. 

You see, I have a system for sorting my acrylic paints and I guess it needs some tweaking because I never quite know where to put and therefore where to find my purple paint. 

I have a basket that has three sections and so I divide my colours into three categories which makes sense to me for ease of retrieval when I’m in an inspired painting frenzy.

They are few and far between lately therefore I cannot risk a loss of focus!
I have a neutral section which houses the browns and a tube of black I’ve had for 20 years.

The warm colours section holds the yellows, oranges and reds.

Finally the cool colours section has a medley of blues and greens.  

I dump my purple anywhere; it does not have a home.
Is it cool and therefore does it go with the blues and greens? 
Or is it warm due to it’s proximity to red and therefore should it get mixed in with those and the yellows? 
Or finally is it neutral? 

Yes, I think that must be it.  In my life purple is most likely a neutral.  I use it everywhere. While I do not have a purple wall anywhere in my home I have tried, my usually very complacent husband put his oar in there and said NO WAY!  He apparently does not agree with me on the “purple is a neutral” train of thought!  Actually neither do I -there’s no way purple would be neutral on a wall!

 So where should it go?  I still do not know.

But for my art… purple is as essential as breathing. 

There is never a painting I do that doesn’t have a lot of it in it.  (Having said that a little purple goes a long way, it is very concentrated, in case you wonder.)   I paint purple cows…I never use black, a left over tip from art school days that  suggests the creation of black from other pigment adds a deeper, richer dimension to the colour on canvas.  Purple creates life, depth, shadow and fullness.  Therefore my cows are purple, my leaves are purple, the skies, the sheep, well just about it all!

On our wedding day many moons ago I remember the minister’s sermon.  She spoke of our small community and the landscape, the hills and valleys and likened the view to the patchwork quilt my mother had sewn as a wedding present.  She included the people that you see every day in passage.  The ones you speak to and the ones that might only get a cautious nod, even a very few you may go to great lengths to avoid.  She said in the incredible view that is our valley home there is richness and depth because of the dark spots, the forests, the deep dark lakes and even the questionable individuals.  Without all these “shadows” our views would be flat, lifeless and shallow.  In my naivety and youth I wondered why she needed to cloud our special day with such moody talk, but realized soon enough she was equating it with a marriage, a relationship and the shadows that would inevitably fall. 

These shadows are my purples.  In almost 16 years of marriage we have experienced many purples.  The really incredible thing about purple is not it in itself but how in spite of it’s somber intensity it does add life and vitality to our world.  Purple has a vibrancy all its own. Purple compliments and makes yellows sunnier, pinks more vital, blues deeper, greens increase in range a million fold.   Without the purple of life, the sorrow as it sometimes is, the injury, the darkness which carries a whole life of its own, there is not a doubt the fun times wouldn’t be as spectacular. Once you walk through the purple and realize that it was the shade that brought cool relief on a sweltering day, the depth that made leaves pop bright against the autumn sky would you really never want to experience it and are you not richer for it?  Would our lives be as sumptuous if the shadows weren’t in them?  I imagine life would be kind of flat. 
I like purple.  I have faith and perseverance to get me through my darkest purples and it illuminates by contrast the wonder that life holds in all its other array of colour and emotion.  I hope that in my art I have used it sufficiently to instill depth and richness which is so very essential in keeping everything from falling flat.
May your purples be bearable.  May you see them for what they bring and what they illuminate.  Tolerate the dark days as the celebrations will be all the sweeter.   Life is short, shadows fall, but it is a wonderful, amazing, awe inspiring trip.  So breathe it all in and enjoy.

Now back to my palette I go…so concludes my ode to purple. 

Don’t even get me started on Green and for the record, I do not have one of those but many, as they are life itself…another rambling for another day!