Dandelion fluff and painting

Looking forward
Watercolor on Arches 300# hot press
Copyright 2011 by Margaret Sloan

It’s an odd, drifty feeling to paint without a teacher at my shoulder. It’s like being dandelion fluff caught on the surface of a pond, stuck to the water film but still blown about hither and thither (that thither-zone is an uncomfortable place!).

While I painted this picture, I anchored myself in the painter-pond by studying painters I liked. I kept those painters’ images on my computer, and every so often would take a break from my painting and run over to study how they handled a similar passage. I didn’t feel as if I were copying a master, but rather, as if I were asking a master a question.

I also talked incessantly to myself. I’m sure I sound like a muttering madwoman escalating into a full-blown fit: What color should go here? Should I use a warm red or a cool red? Can I get away with a purple or a green? How can I get this form to turn? Is the value dark enough yet? It’s too dark! Oh no, that’s Alizaron Crimson, it won’t lift off the paper! What am I going to do now? Gah! What am I thinking?!!!

At this point there is much wailing and whining, stamping of feet and tearing of hair. Then I do what Rose Frantzen recommends: I take a paper towel and clean my palette. She’s right. It’s calming. It resets my clock.

I’m stuck on the background of this painting right now. I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit, and will probably have to think about it a bit more. Turning and churning it in my head while I float about uninstructed.

Looking forward (Detail)
Watercolor on Arches 300# hot press
Copyright 2011 by Margaret Sloan

8 thoughts on “Dandelion fluff and painting

  1. Hmmmm. . . Yes. Cleaning one’s palette (whether of paint or words or too many “to-dos”) often is just the ticket for breaking up that feeling of “stuckness.” Beautiful, Maggie!

    1. Chris,
      Yes, it does really help get me unstuck. I once read that there was a writer (I don’t remember his name) who would jump up every hour and run around the block, then get back to writing. Perhaps I should add a run to my palette cleaning time!

  2. your painting is so much looser in this one. I love it. it has breathing room that allows for the interplay of emotions (hers and the viewers).

    1. Thanks Cynthia, I know we’ve talked a lot about that. I’ve been working on it. Yours is one of the voices I often hear whispering over my shoulder.

  3. Maggie – this painting is really lovely, made all the more so by your post. I’m so relieved I’m not the only one who talks to the painting, and I will follow your – and Rose’s advice about cleaning off the palette as a way of cleaning the thought processes – no wonder mine have been so muddy lately!

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