In my painting life, I've decided to slow down a bit. Exhibiting became exhausting and I didn't feel that I was "growing" so much in my art. I find that it is very easy to become focused on selling rather than investigating. I did not like that and I do not like that about the art "scene". At the Lancaster gallery I was required to produce several new paintings for each month I exhibted while trying to work full time and raise teenagers. While I did sell a few paintings, I felt that the quality began to suffer as I tried to meet deadlines. I enjoyed several invitational exhibits over the last few years and now I just want to focus on the painting process.
I've considered pursuing my MFA through one of the many low-residency programs, but the cost and the committment seemed prohibitive. So I enrolled in a low-cost oil painting class at our local York Art Association with an instructor who taught me watercolor painting almost twenty years ago. Nancy Wiseman is a fine artist, trained in the classical old masters' style. I was a bit hesitant as I have been known for my loose style, but thought, "I like Nancy, so what the heck?"
I came in to a room set up with the typical still life arrangements of fruits and pots. I confess that I felt underwhelmed, having painted many of these arrangements in college. I took my spot among many middle aged women and began to paint. I was almost immediately chastised by Nancy. She is quite the regimented instructor and I have a lot of sloppy habits. Eventually I caved and bought the paint and the brushes that she recommended. I also bought a balanced hardwood palette, handcrafted by her husband and her hand-blended maroger medium. I toyed with her fruits and pots but confess that I did not really like the process or products.
Nancy however, would not let me quit that easily. She called me at home to remind me to register for her classes. On the third round of sessions I began painting Nancy's flowers. She is a wonderful gardener and brought in irisis. She also photographed the irises because they would not last through the completion of the painting. I began with a purple iris. I worked on a second purple iris over the summer in my own studio. One class, I forgot my reference photo for the purple and started on the yellow. This was my third, and only completed iris at this point. I absolutely loved painting this. I learned so much about this delicate process. It took almost the entire ten week session (3 hours a week) but I think I can say that I am finished with this one.