I’m back home and getting into the swing of painting again. I’ve given myself time to just dive in and start working, so at some point I’ll scan in the late sketches from my trip and post them here, but in the meantime, here’s the first oil I’ve been working on since I got home.
I’d had a great flow going on large paintings of water before I left, and I was worried about losing my momentum in five weeks away. Paris is always a restorative time for me, where I experiment with new things, walk and think, and look at lots of amazing art that inspires me for the year to come. This year, though, I was buried so deeply in this series that I was reluctant to leave. I did several things to try to keep the flow going while I was gone. I worked larger in watercolors, which I had wanted to learn for illustration purposes anyway, and it also helped me to stay slightly more in the scale of the work I wanted to come home ready to do. This series includes figures in a number of the paintings, which is still pretty new for me, so I did a ton of larger self portraits (9x12” instead of my usual 5” or 6x8” watercolors) and also sketched a lot of people out in public to keep improving on my figure skills.
Most importantly, I intentionally cast my mind back to the larger paintings and visualized the couple of next ones I wanted to start. I did this especially the last week, while I was walking or right on that edge of sleep, which is a very creative time for me. I was hoping to keep the ideas fresh and get myself back in that mindset for when I got home, and it worked beautifully. I had one day of unpacking and serious jet lag, and the next day (still a bit jet lagged), I was up early and drew off three new paintings before it was light enough to walk Mr. Darcy. This is the first of five paintings I’ve started in the last week and a half. I think this one is finished, though I may tweak it a bit more. Others need various levels of help still, but they’re coming along nicely. It feels good to be back with big canvases and flowing paint again.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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