I am a painter. How do I know that? It's not as simple as it sounds with an answer like "because that's what you do, silly." I would hate to think that we can be defined simply by what we do. The actual painting is just the evidence that we have painted, not that we are painters. But the way we see things and the desire to express ourselves in a certain way can be more of a clue. I think it's because it's the first thing I want to do when I see something cast in a beautiful light, glowing in a certain way, or a fascinating shape with interesting colours. What immediately comes into my head is "I want to paint that!" It could be something in nature, a flower in a vase, a spoon, a face, or even my food! Light and shadow can make anything extraordinary. Sometimes I'm watching a movie and I want to press pause and paint that scene! (the ending is secondary!) There's that desire to process the vision by taking it apart in my mind and putting it together again on paper - in my case, using watercolour paint. Kehinde Wiley, New York artist, recently explained in an interview that looking for his next subject is like being in a state of heightened awareness, literally walking through the street and 'hunting for beauty'. He walks through the world seeing it through a rubric of how to recapture it and re-tell it. Many times for me too, this is a deliberate search, like putting on my painter's goggles and seeing what inspires me. But the best, and more telling moments are when it happens by surprise. It's when the state of heightened awareness has become normal, and when faced with that lovely thing, I am imagining right away how I am going to paint it.
Here's a little quiz to help find out what drives YOU!
You are walking in a mall and the display in a shop window (Godiva) lit with a spotlight is a shiny silver pedestal tray with a plump, blushing strawberry dipped in chocolate making a perfect reflection on the metallic surface. Your first thought is:
A) I want to buy that for someone special
B) I want to eat that
C) There's dust on that tray, and is that a worm I see in the strawberry?
D) I want to paint that
I know what I would choose! That's how I can call myself a painter. What are you?
I guess this is just a figurative easel since I usually paint on a surface balancing part on my lap and part on the table in front of me. I'm in the planning stages of these two dachshunds who live in Vancouver, but whose charm put that instant thought into my head..."I want to paint that!" My hope is to show you at least one of them in watercolour form in a week.
Still Gnawing on it!
Then once that hunt has been successful and I ultimately sit down to paint my prize, I most always listen to something playing in the background. The soundtrack to my life sometimes is an audiobook, sometimes talk radio, and very often, my playlist of what I call 'Painting Music'. Apart from the ongoing hunt for visual inspiration, I always have my ears pricked for music that makes me want to sit up and listen. To stop what I'm doing and turn up the radio, tell people to shut up...and ask, "what IS that song?" A beautiful vocal tone, a harmony, an instrumental, something that strikes a place in my centre. I get so excited when I discover something new or when one of my 'old faithfuls' brings out a new album. (Mark Knopfler, Bonnie Raitt and Bruce Hornsby are some of those old faithfuls, whose new albums get automatically purchased without pre-listening!) In the sidebar I've added a link to a page where I've started showing you some of my all-time favorite music to listen to while I cook, clean, do laundry... but especially while I paint! As I discover new 'goody's' I'll add them to the list. My newest addition is just O,O,O,O ...Gorgeous! Diana Krall's 'Wallflower' is a collection of covers of older songs, many of which have been long time favorites of mine in their original form. She interprets them beautifully and uniquely. I'm loving it.
Are YOU Hunting for Beauty?
I should start a new game and call it "What new thing have you noticed on Diana's Blog?" Anyone can play... I'll give you a hint and direct you once again to the sidebar. Links to my little painting videos on YouTube is one of them. Another is a link to my 'Card Rack', a way to shop for my greeting cards on line. If you are hunting for a beautiful way to send a special message to a friend or family member then hunt no further than this. You'll see my full catalogue of cards and will be able to make your order right there.