In February, I learned that my attitude can have a huge impact on my creative process, and I’ll show you a great example of my growth as a painter.
A Short, and Sometimes Stressful Month
February is a short month as it is, but it went by in even more of a blur than usual. I’ve been working very hard to finish my first quilt pattern and a couple different versions of quilts from it. As well, I ended up signing up for an immersion course on surface pattern design that started on February 28th. And therefore I have been trying to clear my schedule in advance so I can focus on that.
On top of everything I need to do, there have been many distressing situations in the news lately that have left me feeling a range of emotions. I’ve been quite tired as well, both from physical and emotional exhaustion, but also from odd reasons like being repeatedly woken up by frost quakes. (Have you ever experienced those?)
Before starting my 52 in ’22 Art Challenge to make more time for creating art, I would have cut painting from my schedule when I got overwhelmed with everything I needed to do, or felt worn out. But I’m enjoying the regular time that I set aside for painting, and the feeling of accomplishment from working on the challenge every week. And I didn’t want to break my momentum.
Attitude Is Everything
So each week in February, even though I felt tired and distracted by my to-do list, I chose to paint. On two occasions, painting was a successful distraction and I really enjoyed the process and the artwork I created. Those paintings make me want to keep painting.
However on the two other occasions, I approached painting more as an obligation. I got grumpy and frustrated halfway through and nearly gave up on both those paintings. But I stuck with it, and they did improve by the end. Even so, I am unhappy with those two paintings, partially because they didn’t turn out as I had hoped, and partially because I didn’t enjoy the process while painting them.
Regardless of the outcome, I still painted, and I still tried new things, so I’m proud of myself. And I’m also developing an understanding of how my attitude, mood, and energy level will affect the creative process and ultimately, the art I create.
Four Paintings in February
Let’s look at the my paintings for the art challenge in February. Since I completed five paintings in January, I’ll keep numbering my paintings consecutively, as 6 through 9 for the year.
6. Reflection on Water – From a Trip Photo from PEI
For my first painting in February, I chose a personal photograph that I took from a trip to PEI in 2018. We were a little ways down the beach from our rented cottage at low tide. My husband was out at the end of the rocks and our dog, Oliver, sat in the shallow water waiting for him. I chose the photo for the prompt, “Reflection on Water”.
As I was setting up, I remarked to my husband, “I don’t think I’m going to be able to do a very good job of this”, and he reminded me that wasn’t a very good attitude. So I tried to change my state of mind, but I was still nervous about painting several surfaces that I hadn’t attempted before.
However, once I got the rocks with their attached bits of shells done, I was so happy at how I had been able to represent them in paint. I also loved the sky, my tiny husband, and Oliver.
The only thing I did really struggle with was making the reflection on water, especially because it’s so shallow over the red sand. The colour really threw me. But I did work in a reflection of Oliver that I like.
So while I feel that I need way more practice with reflections, I absolutely love this painting. I could not be happier with how it turned out, and it takes me back to that day at the beach. This painting really built my confidence as a painter.
7. Study a Work By a Famous Artist – Tulip Fields in Holland by Monet
For my second painting, I chose the prompt, “Study a work by a famous artist”. Since Monet is known for impressionism, I searched some of Monet’s works and selected a colourful painting called Tulip Fields in Holland. You can see the original HERE.
Perhaps it’s my fault for choosing such a small size to work on (this is 4 x 5″), but I really struggled with the flowers and the buildings. I came very close to stopping working on it at one point, but I soldiered on, and it did come together more.
This is definitely the painting with the most colour that I’ve ever done, and maybe that’s what’s bothering me. But as usual, after more time has passed, I can better appreciate it. While it’s not among my favourite paintings, I am glad that I tried something new.
8. Fruit – Pear, Class by Miss Mustard Seed
I was feeling particularly overwhelmed with my to-do list this week, and I wanted to follow along with a class. I felt the less decisions to make for myself, the better. So I chose another free Miss Mustard Seed painting class, this time painting a pear, for the prompt of “Fruit”.
I love Marian Parson’s (Miss Mustard Seed) classes, and she’s very approachable and encouraging. But I was in a bit of a bad mood and definitely overtired. The class was longer, and I felt that I couldn’t keep up. I had to keep pausing and rewatching bits.
I also contemplated giving up part way through as it was looking terrible, but I kept at it, and it did improve. Perhaps I should write a sticky note with “Don’t Give Up! It will Get Better!” as a visual reminder.
Overall, I struggled with the shape of the pear and I corrected it SO many times. And the shadows and highlights of the pear, as well as the shadows of the leaves were also very challenging.
Once again, now that time has passed, and I’m not comparing it to Marian’s version, I think it’s a decent attempt for only my second still life ever. It’s also my first attempt at painting fruit. I’d be curious to attempt this pear again near the end of the year and see if I can improve upon it.
9. Revisit One of Your First Works – New Attempt at My First Painting Ever
I made my first ever oil painting in July 2020. It was a treed landscape that I painted from following along with a free Miss Mustard Seed painting class she had recorded a couple months earlier during lockdown. For my first oil painting, I was pretty pleased with it. But I recognize that it ended up quite dark, quite muddy, and over-blended.
Since July 2020, I’ve done a good handful of paintings. And as I wrote in January paintings post, I am still working on not getting bogged down in details. I’d prefer to adopt a slightly more impressionistic style, and learn to stop overworking every painting. But it’s usually a struggle.
For the last prompt of February, I decided to choose “Revisit one of your first works”. And I selected my very first painting. Rather than take the class over again, I viewed some of the student works that Marian had included on her blog post with the class. Some of them were looser and more what I was hoping to achieve with my second attempt.
As well, I also taped up my original attempt to look at. I think it was quite helpful to have it there as an example so I could make conscious choices to get different results. And the difference is dramatic.
For this one, I chose a smaller canvas. I think the original is 6 x 8″ or so, and this is a 3 x 5″ index card divider that I prepared with gesso. I purposely brightened the colour palette, and left it more blobby and less blended.
And I could not be happier with the finished result. As well, the painting took me maybe half the time I usually spend on paintings. Go figure – I guess overworking takes quite a bit of time!
But to me, the biggest difference is obvious when you place the two versions side by side.
It makes me so happy to see such an improvement in about a year and a half of painting. So even though I wasn’t happy with all of my paintings or painting sessions in February, I am feeling inspired all over again.
And I know that I’m on the right track! Now I just need to approach painting from the right mindset to improve my creative process and ultimately, the artwork I create.
See my March paintings now!
The 52 in ’22 Art Challenge
If you’re just finding this, you may want to know more about the 52 in ’22 Art Challenge. It’s a free and flexible art challenge with a printable prompt sheet that you can join anytime. You can read all about it and find answers to FAQs HERE.
You can also get your free copy of the printable prompt sheet below:
I want to hear from you. Which of the February paintings do you like best? Have you ever attempted a creative endeavour over again after some time and noticed growth or improvement? Do you find that your attitude affects not only how much you enjoy the creative process, but also the outcome? Let me know in the comments below.
All the best,