…was the title of a book by Jon Kabat-Zinn, a book I probably need to pull out again and review. The book was a gift to me by my mother many years ago. I have two copies now, hers which I found tucked in her nightstand when we cleared out her home after her death in 2010, and my original copy. Maybe I’m waiting to give a copy to the right person. It’s about mindfulness in everyday life.
Spring is starting to assert itself here in southeastern Minnesota. Trees are budding out with new leaves, grasses becoming lush, warm weekends bring out the gardeners eager to connect with the earth.
In my new downstairs studio space I’ve been busy getting things arranged, trying to paint more often. The other day I set up a still life of a bowl of pears, working on a looser more interpretive style. I actually painted the set up several times, but wiped them down and started over, pushing myself to create something more.
In the end, I was satisfied with this one (see photos below), for in the moment it started to capture just a little of the quality I was striving for. All painting is practice, like yoga. Each day you get to the easel, you bring with you where you are in that moment.
In the spirit of keeping occupied during our first full winter living in Minnesota, I’m trying to paint more often. Although I like to paint from life, sometimes that’s not possible, so I do work from photos. Taking my own, or using royalty free stock photos, and then cropping or altering the composition is fun and satisfying to me.
We survived the big Polar Vortex freeze of last week here in our new home in Dundas, MN. Thankfully we don’t have regular outside jobs to commute too, so it was relatively easy. Our house is newer, and very snug, so aside from a power failure or being deliberately stupid outside, we were bound to be safe. I did experience a larger dose of cabin fever than usual. As a native Californian, my need for sun is strong — the cold doesn’t phase me as much as a long stretch of overcast days can. I try to get outside for a walk any time the weather is calm and close to 30 degrees or above.
I have started up with my oil painting again, it was hard after the move — my forward momentum with art had come to a standstill. To get going again I started sketching on a small sketchpad as often as I could. Trying to maintain a daily art practice, while still adjusting to a new home is difficult — many distractions! Finally I set up my studio easel and pulled out my oils — I started with a small floral of a pot of Paper Whites. It was a good exercise, but nothing worth showing. Then I focused on the landscape I’d been photographing on my walks or just in our big backyard.
Driving around this new landscape I’m always looking at the colors reflected in the snow, always changing and catching new color. Here’s a peek at the first of what I hope will become a series below: