Clarity of Sleep

In recent years, I've learned that if something is not sitting right with me, a sleep is the best antidote.  The example that best illustrates this methodology is the time I was painting a portrait of Louis Armstrong as part of a painting workshop that was being hosted in a bar.  While I was happy to support the cause - a high school music program - I didn't like the energy being exuded by this one lady who had too much to drink.  She also spent a little too much time in my personal space and it threw me off.

By the end of the evening, participants were pretty convinced that my painting was done and looked great.  I felt otherwise and went to sleep with the intention of figuring out where it needed to go in the morning.  Just before waking, the answer came to me in my dream.

The result was this portrait and a new style that has resulted in 20 or 30 other works.

I had the same uneasy feeling as I closed up the studio last night.  I was working on a new wood bison painting inspired by a photo I took back at the end of the summer.  As Rob and I were driving to the Discovery Wildlife Park in Innisfail, I spotted a field full of bison.  Despite the rain and cold, I pulled over, grabbed my camera, and raced to the fence line.  The animals got skittish and moved off into the distance, but I managed to get one shot that gave me what I needed.  This is the photo.

This is the painting at the end of last night.

Perhaps I was tired, but it felt very confusing to me, visually.  It also felt too dark. I knew that I needed to simplify it in some way and find some light.  I knew that a strong painting was just a few brush strokes away.  I went to bed with the intention of figuring out what brush strokes those were.  While I wasn't blessed with a dream that gave me the answers, I went right to the painting upon waking, took a deep breath and made some slight changes.

I believe that I like it now.  I'm going to call it "The Sentinel".


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