Tag Archives: Summer

Summer Painting

I am happy to report that, even after my disappointing effort last week, I did paint this week. In fact, I painted twice. I stayed in my own back yard and I started with a tiny canvas, but I took my paints outside and I painted. Out there. En plein air. Eventually, I would like to try a sweeping landscape, with some real sky and all, but I am trying to proceed at the speed of me and this feels about right. I need to get used to painting outside. I need to figure out which colors are indispensable. I need to figure out how long they will stay wet. I need to figure out how much to include in the background and how to make it stay in the background.

Little Cabbage

Little Cabbage

I think I made some progress with this tiny painting. I wanted to paint the little purple cabbage in my husband’s garden, but I remembered last week’s problem with the background, so I started with that. What’s behind this small garden is my neighbor’s garage and a chain-link fence. I tried to put them in lightly, without too much detail. It’s still not perfect, but it’s certainly an improvement over the “background” I painted last week. I love the little cabbage and the friendly plants next to it.

I was encouraged by this tiny effort – it’s only 2 1/2” by 3 1/2” – so I tried something a bit bigger the next time I took my paints into the back yard. I obviously bit off more than I could chew, but there are a lot of things about my 8” x 10” painting that I like. I like all the pots. I like the eggplant blossoms and I like the strawberry and I like the limes. I hate the window and the shadow of its awning.



I just couldn’t figure out what colors I was seeing in those window frames. They were in shadow. I knew what color they really were, which was white. Of course they don’t look white when they’re in shadow, but my left brain just wouldn’t let it go. Sometimes I can’t believe how tenacious my left brain can be. It always wants me to paint what it knows is there, instead of what I see.

I will keep trying. Every attempt teaches me something. I put my chair down in a big shady spot when I started this painting. I looked up to see where the sun was and it was behind a huge tree. It looked as if it would stay behind that tree for hours. I guess it did, but not enough hours. Once that sun hit my Sta-Wet palette, my paint did not stay wet. There were other things I might have done to this painting, but I couldn’t keep going. My paints were drying up and there was nothing I could do, with the supplies I had brought outside, to stop it.

I guess that means the sun finished this painting. Next week, I hope to make better plans and finish my own painting.


Summer is a hard time to be creative. The world is so rich and warm and full, it doesn’t seem to need any contributions from me. I love being outside in the summer. I love the lush greens and I love the colorful flowers and I love the sound of bees buzzing in clover. It all makes me happy but it doesn’t make me want to write a song or make a painting. It seems to beg me to just breathe and be thankful.

The bees like the birdbath.

The bees like the birdbath.

This annoys my inner critic, of course, who keeps telling me I need to be accomplishing things. I’ve been trying to keep that critic quiet by catching up with my tie-dye chores and my housecleaning, but my higher self must have seriously wanted me to take a little break. I was reaching for a basket of blanks to put in the washer the other day, just doing my normal job in my normal way, and my lower back said, “Oh, no you don’t!” and hit me with one very sharp pain, followed by lots more pain if I tried to keep doing my job.

I looked up “back strain” on the internet and it told me I should do pretty much nothing for a couple of days and then gradually get back to my normal activities. It was right there, in black and white. My inner critic had to shut up and let me rest. I couldn’t paint. I couldn’t wash blanks. I couldn’t put things into pre-soak. I couldn’t do any of the things a hard-working tie-dye artist and/or housewife was supposed to be doing. All I could do was be still and read or carefully play video games on a borrowed 3DS (thank you, daughters, for helping me cope with my forced idleness).

I have to say that once I got some arnica on me and some ibuprofen in me, I enjoyed those two days. I know it’s almost un-American to say so, but nothing is really a lovely thing to do on a sunny day in June, if you have an ironclad excuse and you know it’s only temporary. My inner critic was silenced and I got a good rest. I am gradually getting back to my chores now, with the addition of a back brace to help me avoid re-injuring myself.

I guess I need to learn to listen to my higher self when it tells me I need to rest. The grass tried to tell me. The bees tried to tell me. I just kept pushing, because that is what a responsible person is supposed to do. My higher self (or the Universe or Good Orderly Direction or whatever you want to call it) had to bring out the big guns, just to get me to stop for a couple of days and do nothing.

Sometimes nothing is the best thing anyone can do.