How the painting has changed me

I look back on the paintings I have done in the last six months and shake my head.  The initial run of portraits happened in the softer summer months, when time was more plentiful, and getting out in the studio was so alluring.  I'd leave the door open and birds would pop in for visits from time to time.  It's no wonder that my fishing habit was supplanted by this other activity and that the output was so extraordinary.

Then the fall hit.  Obligations ramped up, spare time dwindled, and the amount of painting I did was limited.  But, I had promised myself that I would find the time, no matter what, to do at least one portrait a week.  With the exception of a week or two when I was physically out of town, I managed to keep it up.  In the process of exercising my painting muscle, things have changed.

Primarily, I look at people more deeply, the structure of their faces, the glint in their eyes, and the composition of their hair.  Portraiture has taught me to consider the unique qualities that make one person discernible from another.

We had a lovely couple over for dinner last night, and while half my brain was listening to the wonderful conversation, the other half was at the easel painting.  I was intently engaged with the dialogue while deconstructing John's moustache and what kind of colours and strokes that I would have to use to recreate it.

On nights like last night, when I'm anticipating a major painting project, my nocturnal thoughts are taken up with the nuances of the creative work that lies ahead. My brain goes into unconscious overdrive considering lines, colours, patterns, backgrounds and composition.

"The moment he started painting, he seemed happier, less stressed," said Heather over pre-dinner conversation last night.

If anyone knows the affect it has had on me, it is my wife.  I think it is significant to note that all of this painting, starting with Elsie's Mural #1 and continuing to the large - and very secret - portrait I did yesterday, all happened after I started work at the United Way.  The inspiring work I get to do during the day, inspires me to create during my off-time.

In addition to the healthy reflection time it gives me, painting regularly, with purpose and intention, is a curious adventure.  I'm slowly learning, evolving, and imagining.  I think my muscle is getting stronger, my eye keener, and my process, more refined.  The great thing about this creative pursuit is that it has no end point, except when I die I suppose.  Who knows what I'll be doing a year from now, 10 or 20 years from now;  that's the most exciting thing about it.


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