Tuesday, November 16, 2010

For a Moment, Awash in Inner Silence

As per usual, things have been chaotic for me and mine here on the Lost Coast, necessitating yet another extended absence from publishing.  I think I can only handle one whirlwind at a time and this time, the particular storm keeping me off my feet is college (for myself and my son.)  I'm just taking a single class but the fresh inspiration and new environment has my brain flying off in as many tangents as can fit in a day (and believe me, that's A LOT!)  I'm studying watercolor but I find myself experimenting in all sorts of things as I get a welcome (and long overdue) jolt of outside feedback and challenges.

Last week, for the first time ever, I worked from a real live nude model.  I managed to avoid it all through school, not because I'm a prude but because I simply didn't want to tempt my evil inner critic out into the open anymore than he already is and when it comes to realistically representing the human body, something inside freezes up and the self-criticism gets deafening.  So I decided from the the outset that I would set aside any notion of a "good" outcome; I just "knew" the end product was going to suck so I focused completely on the process.  The challenge here was to capture the figure's essence and energy WITHOUT using a pencil.  This particular pose lasted 20 minutes so there wasn't a lot of time to waste whining anyway; the model settled into her pose, the instructor started the timer, and off we went!  Colors had to be chosen on the fly and unexpected movement of the paint had to be either "corrected" before it dried or left alone.  The instructor did not walk around and help anyone; after the briefest of lectures on human anatomy in the previous session, we just dove into figure painting and it was definitely akin to free diving as opposed to scuba diving with all its reassuring equipment, extra oxygen and all that.  Yep!  One breath, a brush, paint, water, the paper, the model, and the clock.  Tick tock...

Lo and behold, I discovered something.  With the damn critic bound and gagged in a corner of my brain, I was able to fully immerse myself in the process AND I didn't drown!  (This is something I have experienced only rarely in my artistic lifetime.)  In fact, when I finally came up for air after three hours of painting, I actually *gasp* liked some of my work and the stuff I didn't like?  It truely didn't matter.  The critic had not one word to say.  Silence is golden.  I don't know if I'll ever paint the figure again as it simply isn't my area of interest but this experience was invaluable.  Taking control of the critic is possible and necessary.  It is possible to not be afraid all the time.  How refreshing! 

P.S.  More to come as I get stuff scanned and my thoughts organized...stay tuned and once again, thank you all for your infinite patience with my erratic publishing schedule...


  1. I'm so glad to see you back and know you are creating Michelle! I think the painting is fabulous, you have really captured the model, and the color and softness make the piece!

  2. Your painting and the title of your post are such a perfect match, I do hope you try figure drawing again.

  3. what a beautiful painting!


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