Crab Shell by Meg Lyman
6×6″ oil on canvas
This is going to be windy, so bear with me…
Those of you who have been following for a while, do you remember when I talked about changing what types of things I paint? I’ve wanted to make the change from cute squishy things to more serious fine art for a while. Aside from a piece I worked on for oh, 2 years, that I finally finished (and will share with you soon), I haven’t gotten much traction. I set out to discover why. Turns out there were two main reasons and it was much less obscure than I thought.
First was lack of direction. I have this HUGE list of ideas that have popped into my head over the years. Last year, I put into writing my vision of this new “serious” art thing, and I set myself some rules: if the idea doesn’t fit these thematic guidelines, into the bin it goes. It was a ridiculous, painful process, trashing some of my long-held ideas, my creative children. But they just didn’t fit. I have to stick to my vision to be taken seriously as a fine artist.
So, I had narrowed down my ideas into a set of viable paintings. But I still couldn’t get going on it. I spent some time writing down how each idea fit into the themes, and that really helped me shape where I was going with each piece individually, as well as why I was going to paint it. This also helped be decide which paintings to tackle first. Suddenly, I had a schedule! I could intersperse serious ideas with goofy cephalopod commissions and calendar paintings. Problem solved!
But then came the second problem, fear. I knew what I wanted to do, but felt almost paralyzed about how to execute it. When I actually stop and think about it, I know I can paint, and I’m not horrible at it. But this new realm of seriousness with a different audience and unknown venues punched me right in the insecurity. Let’s face it, I have gotten really good at painting cute blobby cephalopods with gouache. Still life and landscapes and portraits in oil are almost completely new for me. Plus I’ve been looking at old masters work, as well as work from contemporary artists I admire, and it gets so overwhelming. They’re so GOOD! Despite my years of painting, I haven’t yet become comfortable thumbnailing or doing value or color studies. There are so many technical aspects to think about all at once and what if I totally forget one OMG? Breeeeathe……
I finally got tired of being overwhelmed and added preliminary paintings and studies to my schedule. My next serious piece is going to involve an airplane. I look at them every damn day but I’ve never painted one… so I’m going to do several studies – but fully finished paintings – of airplanes before I tackle my vision. I am going to thumbnail and value study the hell out of them. You wouldn’t take a calculus test without ever solving an equation, would you? Also, this crab shell is a study for another planned painting. There, I tied the post together.
Enough talking! More drawing.