This past summer, we visited Cape Breton in Nova Scotia, and I fell in love with the Boreal Forest and the stories of the moose and the martens. This piece came together through a number of trials, flow moments, ripped paintings, tears, popcorn, banging my head on my table, and finally a finished painting. Lately I have been over-complicating all of my work, over thinking it, and it leaves me in a state of constant questioning about everything I make. Simply put: making things this way is not conducive or enjoyable. Somehow, I manage to keep busting down that wall of frustration and sometimes I can make images I am happy with; this is one such image.
The landscape in the painting is based on the coast of Cape Breton. Matt and I and our lovely friends Rena and Shaun camped on the island and ate sandwiches in a cloud. It was so misty and beautiful.
We also visited a BOG! It was freezing and there were carnivorous plants abound. It was magic.
When I returned home, I dreamt about capturing this place in illustrations. I started out using regular bristol paper, and played around in colored pencil and gouache.
After laying down a wash, my paper rippled too much and I realized I didn't really like my martens - I wanted to further stylize them (a constant problem when you were trained to draw photorealistically - thanks art school for being the nagging voice in my ear!)
I set out to redraw the illustration, this time on a thick illustration board. Surely, this would be the winner. I started out drawing it with a red color pencil (which I often do) and though the rough and soft texture on the board wasn't ideal, I kept pushing.
It was my goal to make this one bright and magical. I spent about 6 hours painting this one and at first, I felt really great about it!
I actually got pretty far on this one - I laid in the trees and the ground and the water, it was bright! It had potential! (I didn't grab a photo - I'm foolish!) But then after stepping back (and getting feedback from my studiomates) I realized it was like a disney storybook illustration and it didn't feel like ME. But then again, who am I? What do I make? What defines that? WHO KNOWS? I did a white wash over the whole thing to add magical fog because I thought magical fog defined me...why, I don't know. I tried to save it but after that, it just looked like a cheesy disney painting of a magical foggy land that someone would hang in a poorly decorated cabin. Another. Epic. Fail. More head banging on the table.
I pouted a while and ate some popcorn.
AND THEN I did what I so often do when I'm having a block: I start over on a very separate surface - my sketchbook or a blank sheet of paper - far removed from the final. There is very low expectation in a sketchbook or a piece of copy paper - no one has the see this work, and you can be as scratchy and naive as you'd like.
THIS. This is what I want. This sort of rudimentary and naive and scratchy drawing is what I am search of constantly. But the voice in my head says, "People are going to think you don't know how to draw. What about drawing with your shoulder and not your wrist? It's too simple. You're having too much fun to actually be working". Damn this voice!!
So I started again. I started as scratchy as I'd let myself get away with.
And here's the final
This piece will be available and on display at the Julia Martin Gallery for a solo exhibition (my last one for a while!) I'm sincerely hoping for the rest of the pieces I can squash that frustrating voice in my head. I think my new goal is going to lie in the process of making instead of thinking so hard on the outcome and how the piece will be perceived. I'll let you know if this is possible!
Onward ever backward never.