Mr. Coltrane and Mrs. Moose

After successfully completing a number of challenging commission projects, I always try to reward myself with a project or two that are just plain fun and exploratory.  I made a post on Linkedin that suggested that doing something just for the fun of it, will increase one's effectiveness with the not-so-fun projects.  I believe it.

My wife Heather is my inspiration for my creative self-care.  She is diligent about taking the time she needs to recharge and pamper herself.  A hair cut, pedicure, or Thai massage makes a world of difference for her.  Painting something fun, and just because, has a similar invigorating effect on me.

I have a folder on my Dropbox called "Future Projects".  In it goes images provided by clients and images that capture my attention.  They are "paintings waiting to happen", as I like to call them.  Mrs. Moose jumped right out at me as the next perfect subject.  I had just completed a large composition that included a couple of kids and a car.  Prior to that I had done a still life painting of the pair of old hockey skates.  I desperately needed an animal to balance things out.

I did the underpainting the night before and jumped into adding colour first thing yesterday morning.

As I go along, I do this squinting thing: closing my eyes to cloud my vision.  If I'm heading in the right direction, I begin to see the finished painting in this compressed view.  I saw the moose right away.  She was there; I just had to do the work to bring her out.

With half the day left, I decided to do a second "just for fun" painting.  Again, I went back to my "Future Projects" file and landed on an old photograph of Jazz saxophonist John Coltrane.

Once again, I started with the underpainting, getting a solid layer of yellows, oranges, reds, and purples.

After dinner and a walk around the neighbourhood, I started bringing in the flesh tones and some details.

In many ways, one could look at the painting above and say that it was pretty much finished.  I recognize that I could probably leave it right here and call it done.  However, I will be going out after writing this blog post and dive a little deeper with Mr. Coltrane.

Both original pieces will be available for purchase if you are interested in giving one of them a home.


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