20For20 Day 8: Intensity

For me, intensity is usually an intellectual exercise. I see intensity in my daily practice as obsessive attention to detail or laser-focused concentration. It is the expression of my will. Intensity is not about emotions. I don't think of passion or love as a synonym for intensity.


Maybe this lack of emotion in my intensity is what makes my painting practice feel more like work rather than the expression of beauty. Instead of seeing intensity as the achievement of technical skill, I need to shift towards seeing intensity as the expression of how I feel about what I am painting or how am I painting.


It seems easier to allow myself to experience the intensity of hard work instead of the intensity of feelings. When emotions are intense, I can feel out of control. I feel overwhelmed by the more negative emotions: grief, regret, anger. I want to find a way to allow myself to feel all my emotions, not just the positive ones, as I paint.


For today's practice, I worked on my underpainting and adding the darkest values to my painting. I used washes of raw umber to draw my shapes. My idea is to create the greatest point of contrast between the background and the middle ground so I can emphasize my Grandma. The chickens in the foreground will be in low contrast so they support the focus on the figure.

Initial Underpainting, acrylic on canvas board, 8 x 10


Darkest Darks


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.