Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Thoughts on Painting During a Pandemic


I know that I'm not alone in saying that I've had a hard time working since March. A lot of the time I stand in front of my easel and stare at the blank page. I wonder what the hell I'm doing and if it's of any value or importance. A soft voice reminds me that it's important to me.

I've been looking at the work and lives of painters during previous difficult times and trying to learn from them. (How did Munch work during WW2 with German soldiers outside of his windows? How did he work through the 1919 pandemic when he got sick? How did Schiele and Klimt work through the pandemic?  How did Picasso translate his thoughts during WW2 into Guernica? How did Matisse work during WW1? etc...) Obviously, I'm not trying to compare myself or my work to them and their situations but I am trying to find ways in which to feel that I'm doing the right thing and I'm seeking for ways in which to feel less alone.
Most days, I force myself to do something. I put on a podcast or audio book (something with a time limit) and start squeezing out a couple of blobs of paint. I do not like wasting paint so this forces me to pick up my brush and use it. 

I've cleaned up my art area and tried to organize it as best as I could so I could easily access what I needed. 

When not painting, I read about other artists as well as look at their work. I'm trying to keep my well as full as possible. I've been studying Cezanne the last month or so and there's a lot to digest. I'm trying to take to heart what Jenny Saville said in a podcast about working with a companion artist.

Taking a page from many of the painters before me including Jack Whitten, I've been keeping a studio journal for months now, separate from my art journal. I just write it all out: whatever is going on in my day/the world, my studio, ideas, notes to myself, etc... I went out and bought a nice journal (Detroit Shinola, grid paper) and I use it on a regular basis. 
Some additional thoughts:
Don't be afraid to make sad, angry or ugly work right now. 
Don't worry about finishing, just make.

Don't be afraid to try new things: new styles, new mediums, new directions.
Be gentle with yourself and do the best you can. That's all any of us can do right now.

Supplies used:

Journal I made from hardcover book and 100 lb Accent Opaque cardstock size 13 1/4 x 20" opened

Acrylics: Holbein, Sennelier, Utrecht and Golden

Stabilo Aquarellable pencils in black and blue

Painting knives 


Princeton Catalyst Tools

Looking at: Cezanne

Reading: Cezanne's Letters by Alex Danchev


Nicole H. said...

This is absolutely gorgeous Kelly. Doing art is keeping me sane. You always inspire me. I miss you!

Kelly Kilmer said...

Hi Nicole,
I miss you, too! Thanks for the kind words. Yay for art!! I'm happy to hear that you are still creating. Miss you oodles!!! Keep in touch. :)