20For20 Day 12: Joy

Updated: Jan 13

Today I thought about how to invite joy into my painting practice. I love the challenge of painting. I love the materials, the thickness of the paint, the marks you can make with a brush versus a palette knife. I love mixing the colors and experimenting with how to make the paint darker, lighter, duller, brighter. And I love playing with shapes and playing with our sense of space within a rectangle.


Finding joy in this time and in this place has been difficult. I waver between feeling anxious and afraid to feeling angry and judgmental. Inviting joy in my life seems more about recognizing the small moments of freedom. It's about being present and aware of how good this moment is right now.


How fun is it just to feed the chickens?

Lola and the Chickens, acrylic on canvas board, 8x10 in.


I am happy with how my notans have helped me through this painting. It was much easier to focus on mixing colors and applying the paint on the surface during the painting stage. In the past I would have mixed and remixed colors because I didn't understand my value structure. Making the notans ahead of time made it so much easier to identify what color and value I wanted to make and where to put it.


I was worried about how to keep the chickens in the painting without making them the focus; it looks like my plan to make them lower contrast and darker worked. I made the edges between the chicken shapes softer so they would be more out of focus. I think the red in the dress and the window really helps bring the attending to the top of the picture. I limited myself to mostly cadmium red light and aqua green as the main colors.


Looking at the work of other artists also helped me solve some problems with this painting. I used a trick I observed from the Whistler paintings I saw at the Denver Art Museum yesterday: use thicker white paint to make a light-colored object stand out more. I have also been looking at Alex Katz paintings and I noticed that the faces in his figures are crudely painted - not finely detailed - so I did the same in my painting.


Moving forward I want to try painting this at a larger scale -- maybe 16 x 20. And I might also want to try different color palettes. The colors I used I this painting were the closest to the original photo. Maybe I could try some other color combinations but still use the same value structure.


As part of #20For20ArtChallenge2022, I am reading from The Power of Daily Practice: How Creative and Performing Artists (and Everyone Else) Can Finally Meet Their Goals by Eric Maisel, PhD. Part I of the book covers 20 Elements of Practice. In this blog post series 20For20, I write about one Element every day and reflect on how to incorporate the Element into my daily painting practice.