— santa fe winter, i
— 6 x 6 inches oil on panel — copyright dawn chandler 2011
Woke up to snow this morning. Barely a dusting, but even this meager amount is welcome. The end of January is approaching, and until this morning, we’ve had no snow this month. I’m not much of a fan of winter, yet even I am hoping the snows will return, at least for a little while. For now, drifts of two big storms in December still lie in the cold shadows of trees and arroyos. At least I was able to get some photographs of the earlier snow, while it lasted.
Early last week, a building sense of frustration and exasperation with my busy schedule finally caused me to exclaim “SCREW IT!!” and drop everything and just paint. Until that moment, I had barely been able to turn to my palette in weeks. That night, finally, that pressure cooker of frustration released itself in the flow and satisfaction of turpentine and oil paint…Ahh, bliss!
For inspiration, I turned to those photos of winter. Above, the first of two paintings I did that pressure-cooker night. The scene: just up my road on a winter’s late afternoon, looking east as the setting sunlight highlights a neighbor’s pinon and cedar wood.
To my surprise, my paintings that evening turned out quite well. The looseness and confidence of the brushwork, the accuracy of color and light…I’m delighted with how well and quickly these all came together. I guess I’m always expecting that after a time away from painting, I’ll be rusty and not very good at it. And yet, often quite the opposite proves true: that as frustrating as a hiatus from painting can be, it’s often useful. For, though the creative skills and vision are not apparently actively engaged, they continue to incubate. A bit like “sleep-thinking” — when you go to bed at night mulling over a question, and in the morning wake to find the answer. Or like a runner preparing for a race, taking off a few days before the event to rest and restore, and then run a great race. I guess in order to perform especially well, the creative muscles and synapses benefit from rest, too. Or at least they seem to have this time around, anyway….