I have been feeling stale, stagnant, in the studio the last month or so. Part of that is because art making is a solitary experience, especially for me. I love being alone but it doesn’t give me much of a chance to be visually stimulated. Don’t get me wrong, I am comfortable being around people, but I prefer to know a few people
well than a lot of people casually. My second love is writing, another solitary occupation.
One of the reasons I love to travel is that I get out in the world to see new, exciting, colors, people and places. I don’t normally sketch while on vacation. I’ve never been a plein-air painter and quick, thumbnail, sketching is not something I do as a rule. Instead, I take hundreds or even thousands of photos to use as
references in the studio.
What I’m looking for in outdoor spaces and different cities and countries is inspiration. My three weeks in France last year has given me enough material for at least a dozen paintings. I thought that was a record until we spent two weeks in Hawaii recently.
I’ve never been to Hawaii so I had nothing to go on except the typical tourist posters and other people’s testimonials. We spent a week on Kauai and a week on Maui. The scenery is beautiful. We took the helicopter tour on Kauai and an 11-1/2 tour of the Hana coast on Maui. I took over 1,500 photos during the vacation. As I was looking through them, I was struck by the flowers. There weren’t as many varieties as I expected, but there were plenty of them.
Before I turned to abstract acrylic art, I worked in pastels to create florals. They aren’t the standard flowers in a vase, but more like a single flower on a contrasting background. I love working in pastels and the soft, velvety results I can get. They are just incredibly messy.
As I looked at the dozens of floral photos, I started to think of the years I spent covered in pastel dust happily painting away. Actually, I’ve been thinking of adding florals into my body of work for quite some time.
One evening, as I sat in the condo listening to the ocean outside, I moved some of the photos into Photoshop. I used a few commands I rarely have an opportunity to use and turned them into something that is so different that they could end up being a new series of abstract floral paintings.
I’m looking forward to studying the opportunities of creating something new. It’s still in the “meditation” stage where I sit and ponder the possibilities and play
with different photos and Photoshop enhancement. This could take three weeks or three months. I never know until I wake up one morning and say, “I can’t wait to get started!” Then I cancel all of my appointments and other commitments and prepare to spend many hours in the studio.
It’s going to take some time before I’ll be able to post progress, but I’ll keep you in the loop.
Susan L Stewart
Click on images to enlarge.