IN THE STUDIO V.6
"Coast of Artá", 16" x 12" acrylic on wood panel
"You become what you behold"
– William Blake
The Background Story
The image above is my latest painting based on my travel memories and photos. Last summer we had an amazing trip to Spain. At the time of the photo, part one of the trip, Barcelona, was down in the books, and we were on the incredible island of Mallorca.
After a few hours of travelling we arrived in Artà, and found ourselves lost and on the wrong property – trying to muster enough Spanish / hand gestures to communicate, is this our airbnb? It wasn't. Once we did find our accommodations, a peaceful room in a beautiful stone house, nested between mountains and a view of the sea. Our hosts, a free spirited German woman, and her adorable white dog. I only wish I knew more Spanish or German, I had a feeling we would have had a fun night conversing if we could. Regardless of the language barrier, she gave us fantastic advice on what to see in this paradise. We dropped off our bags, freshened up, and went off to explore.
This was the first scene we drove to, right down the road from us. A small beach with a rocky shore in parts, beyond the water these majestic mountains. There's something about water and mountains that can wipe any concern away. Peace. Awe. Breathe it in and instant relaxation. For the rest of my life I want to travel to different beaches, mountains, and views. Experience as many as possible and paint them.
The Smaller Works My last painting was of "Manarola" (read about here) which was larger and took roughly three months to complete. After that, I needed some gratifyingly shorter in time taking painting. For the next bit of time I will be focused on smaller works. As always, some will be plans for future bigger works. I've mentioned that my (work in progress) website will have a store, where smaller works, in addition to prints, and various merchandise will be featured. Note that, any of my paintings are for sale, if priced and available, please email me with any interest.
1. search through my travel images for the right scene
2. make a sketch / plan 3. roughly draw the outline in pencil, on the canvas or board 4. roughly block out the main shapes in paint 5. details, details, details until there is nothing more to add or take away
I have to have background noise when I paint. Not music. I tend to get distracted by looking for the next song to play, so I leave music for singing in the shower, the car, or cleaning. My best purchase of last year was a smart tv for my studio where I can watch Netflix, YouTube, or whatever else I have for video on my phone. Though I'm picky.
YouTube interviews/podcasts with inspiring people such as Chase Jarvis, Marie Forleo, or Tim Ferriss are among my favourite channels. Or when I just want to paint and have very little attention span for anything else, "Grey's Anatomy". I must have watched the series 20 times. Great soundtracks, non-annoying voices, if I have a break it's easy to jump into the plot again, and I never tire of the storyline. No other show has done that for me. Thank you Shonda Rhimes for helping me with painting flow.
I painted "Coast of Artá" last week and it took longer than hoped. Some days I felt more distracted, with too many outside thoughts, making me stop sooner. Attention is such a precious thing when I'm working. I have an ADD brain and the tiniest of things can frustrate or distract me. A drip in the sink, my cat in need of attention, or a phone call. Starting can be tough as well, but I've successfully learned how to get into the groove by focusing on one colour. Working with that colour throughout the painting until I feel it's time to mix, or switch up the colours.
Ideally when I paint I'd like to be in state of hyperfocus – you can also call it: in the zone, or flow state. I like to call my hyperfocus my superpower. Sometimes I have to work up to that state. Already, I'm inspired by everything, so I don't have to wait for that. Pick a colour, focus on the painting, and let go of any outside thoughts. It also helps to not name things. I tripped myself up a few times while painting "Coast of Artá" because I kept thinking "why can't I get this water right". When I stopped saying "water", instead thought: this blue next to this, light here, dark there, diagonal lines flowing from here to there – that's when I was able to find my flow state.
It's funny how what you focus on, you become. Don't you think?
Speaking of distraction and focus, my dog is intently looking at me to take him out, making me feel guilty. Okay Ollie. Thanks for reading all, bye for now.
More on the ADHD/ADD superpower of hyperfocus here: additudemag.com/understanding-adhd-hyperfocus/