The key to frustration seems to be–keep on keepin’ on. Yesterday I had about had it with Miss Potato Head. I knew very well that she was “a mess”. I was unhappy with her colors, her background, and the fact that she didn’t give off the reason I wanted to paint her. Problem. Knowing is half the battle. With a great deal of frustration and a very very wet painting on hand, I went looking for another canvas. I haven’t painted with oils in over a year. I haven’t gone shopping for new canvases (and don’t have the budget for it at the moment). So, would I find any? Yes. I wanted to do a quick little painting so that Miss Potato Head could still be my focus and was pleased to find a small canvas about 9×12. I knew what my subject would be right away.
I love food. Sometimes it pains me to sit down to lunch if my bowl of soup looks so pretty that I should be painting it. When I raise the spoon to my mouth I am fully aware that my lunch may have been a masterpiece. Alas, I eat. We have had really dilicious oranges in our house since Christmas. Lately when I have been slicing into my orange (in a particular way as to avoid the meddling middle bit that gets in the way of my juicy consumption), I fall in love with the incredible stripes of orange. Beautiful. The oranges are tastey. I have consumed many. Each time, pretty. striking. beauty. Over and over. These oranges were pleading to be a painting. Finally, I agreed.
When setting up my orange to be immortalized, I sliced it in my usual way. This particular day (yesterday) the stripes were not as pretty as they usually are. Still, I was determined. I put my orange on a plate and brought it to my studio. I picked a pretty light yellow tablecloth and placed the plate down. I didnt like it. Something wasn’t right. I went and got a metal bowl. Gray and yellow–yessss. Gray and yellow and an orange—ummm, no. Hmph. Finally I removed the tablecloth, set up my lamp (sometimes the shadows can provide enough exciting drama), returned only one slice to the plate (and not the slice i was originally thinking of using) and zoomed in (with my eyeballs). In the extreme light of the lamp this orange slice gave off the most wonderful glow. It was settled. The plate was a tan color with pinkish flowers on it. This would allow me to play with the colors that i eventually hope to play with on Miss Potato Head. Great. That was it.
The canvas was so small that I immediately thought it important to zoom in enough to have a pretty good sized orange and not much of the plate. This turned out some neat shapes both with shadows, from the groove in the plate, and from the flower design printed on the plate itself. I began by sketching out a quick layout (very quick) and dove in with the paint. Logistics then got in the way (as they do). I was out of some crucial colors. Luckily my father was getting the oil changed on the car near the art supply store—dad to the rescue! With new colors in hand (or on brush, well, really on brush, hand, and person) I got into the zone. I loved, loved, loved trying to play with Morandi like colors and a bright orange. What I mean by that is- a very subtle palette with a few zingers and small bits of dark color. Their effect together can be quite striking. Before I knew it, there was a painting of an orange on a plate in front of me. Most of it was completed in a day (yesterday), but there was one particular shape that wasn’t working. The roundness of the plate was a bit off. Today I played with it. The result was more blue added. I love that blue. I’m hoping the blue shape doesnt stand up too much. I turned it upside down and was pleased. The blue shape behind the orange and the blue shape under the orange, the curve of the orange peel, and the pink flower print on the plate do a nice curving dance. Tomorrow I will take another look.
At the beginning of today my impatience with drying time assaulted me again and I decided to wipe off some of the paint on Miss Potato Head. I then was curious about bringing down more of the design from the wallpaper. Also, I was eager to tone down some of the colors. With a pleasing palette in my hand (from the “orange” painting), I went toward the potato head. Pulling down the plant design is a bit tedious and challenging with wet paint. I only managed to do a small bit but interesting things evolved (see photo). At this point I am not entirely sure about what will come of it, but I like it. I added a bit of that lovely blue from the orange painting to Miss Potato Head’s shoes, ear, hands, etc. Like a good piece of music, reptition is important. The colors all around us reflect off of what is nearby. It is a beautiful, beautiful fact. Some of my favorite paintings display this quite obviously if you know to look.
Today it took a lot of audacity for me to begin painting. I thought of many ways to do something else. Once I got going, the results were rewarding and gave me hope. I say this as a reminder to myself. It takes me a lot of reminders. Until next time.
Oh wait. Aren’t you going to ask if I ate the orange afterwards? Sadly, no. My lamp was too hot. The orange began curling up after hours of painting. Also, I was full. I did save it. But I still havent eaten it. I should probably go throw it out now. Poor little guy. Some oranges die to be tasted. Others have another calling. I this particular orange served a very noble purpose and i’m pleased that I decided to start the orange painting instead of pushing Miss Potato Head before she was ready. Orange you glad paint needs time to dry? I am.