I’m sharing my May paintings for the 52 in ’22 Art Challenge, and how painting has helped me through a rough month.
An Uninspired Month
Recently I’ve been sharing on Instagram how the month of May was challenging for me.
I had ended April (after releasing my first quilt pattern and finishing Immersion) utterly exhausted. And I used up most of the energy I did have doing some intensive backyard projects with my husband.
In addition, we had a terrible derecho (a strong wind/thunderstorm) in Ottawa over the May long weekend that damaged properties, many trees, and knocked out power to most of the city. Fortunately, we escaped major damage and our power returned after 8 hours. However, others were not so fortunate and a few are still without power more than 2 weeks later.
Many issues in the news were also making me tired and anxious and zapping my creative inspiration. I have definitely been absent here on the blog as it turned into a much longer break than I had intended. But perhaps it was just what I needed.
I have been working my way out the fog and back toward creative work slowly and by being kind to myself. That’s involved some low pressure experimentation, and some short creative tasks. So far I’m enjoying the daily sketching prompts as part of the Flourish membership I joined for surface pattern design.
As well, I’ve been finding some new resources to help reinvigorate my creativity, such as print material and podcasts. I’ll share more of those soon I hope.
Painting Through a Slump
But through the long month or more of my creative drought, one of the only artistic things I did was painting for my 52 in ’22 Art Challenge. Since January, I’ve been painting once a week and I hadn’t missed a week yet.
In May though, things got a bit wonky. I had to paint on different days a couple of times because of conflicts in our schedule. And I also started a couple of paintings and abandoned them for the first time in the challenge. One was an art exercise and the canvas I had chosen was too small to complete it properly, which left me frustrated.
By scrapping a couple of paintings, it put me “behind” on my weekly challenge. Even though the “rules” of the challenge (that I created purposely) are loose and it can be completed at any pace, I was disappointed in myself.
I’m not sure if I was more frustrated that I had nothing to show for a week and felt behind. Or rather, was I more frustrated that by not completing pieces, or achieving an outcome I was happy with, that it meant I was even deeper in a creative drought.
But I persevered and kept trying each week. Not every painting is amazing, but I’m very pleased with some of them. And by the end of the month, I had done an extra painting and “caught up”. As well, I have bought some new supplies, discovered a great painting podcast, and I am really excited to experiment with some new knowledge.
But perhaps best of all, getting excited about painting again has served as a gateway back into excitement and inspiration about other things. It’s still slow, but I’m making progress.
Let’s take a look at the paintings I did in May for the 52 in ’22 Art Challenge. They are numbered consecutively throughout the year, continuing on from April.
18. Stormy Skies – Study of Edward Seago’s “Landscape on the Norfolk Coast”
This first painting was created for “Stormy Skies” on the prompt sheet. I was excited about this one because I had been pleased with a couple other stormy sky paintings that I had done when I began painting.
Those paintings had been studies of paintings by Edward Seago, and so I went searching for another inspiration painting of his with similarly stormy skies. I ended up choosing one called “Landscape on the Norfolk Coast”.
I like how this painting turned out. The painting is on a gessoed section of a vintage photo album page in charcoal grey, and I really think the grey border adds to the moody, stormy feel.
While I think the sky is alright, I’m really happy with the sections of shadows on the ground and patches of sunlight as it breaks through the clouds. I also think it looks a bit like rain in the distance.
Paintings with stormy, dark, or turbulent skies are quite fun to do and I’d love to keep doing more of them in the future.
19. Circular Piece of Art – Double Peony Tulip from a Photograph
For the next painting, I had been saving a circular canvas for quite some time. And during this week, I had my very first tulips blooming that I had planted last fall. They are Sun Lover Double Peony Tulips, and I just love the plentiful petals that give them a more rounded shape.
I chose to paint the photograph above, but in retrospect, the lighting probably wasn’t correct. I found it hard to mix the right red and make shadows and highlights to really showcase the different petals. I’ve done very few still life paintings before, and certainly never a large flower like this one.
I chose a bright turquoise to use as the background and it’s probably not the best choice as the green leaves, stems and bud blend in too much.
There is so much room for improvement with this painting, but I really enjoyed the challenge of trying it. And rather than being disappointed that it didn’t turn out better, I’m excited to learn more and to see growth when I try something similar in the future.
20. Use Bold Colours – Study of Adam Cope’s “L’Esperance”
For this painting, I decided I wanted to try a landscape that wasn’t using typical “true to life” colours. I found an artist named Adam Cope that does fabulous landscape paintings with a really great use of colour. One of a river in bold, cool colours, called “L’Esperance” caught my attention.
I had a lot of fun studying this painting. It’s so different than a lot of the muted landscapes I painted when I was just starting. Even mixing these colours was a fun challenge, and phthalo blue easily took everything in a cool, turquoise-y direction.
I also really enjoyed the challenge of the reflection and highlights on the water. I absolutely want to try studying some more of Adam Cope’s amazing paintings and his use of colour.
21. Long Horizontal Piece of Art – Sunny Fields
For this painting, I had a long skinny piece of a canvas pad sheet leftover. It seemed perfect for a long horizontal painting. I searched panoramic landscapes on Google Images and used a few images to get an inspiration of colours to begin, and then I improvised from there.
My idea was to use more intense colours to capture a brilliant blue sky and sunny hills and meadows. I think the shade of blue in the sky is a bit more royal blue than I had intended. And I think I made it a bit overly sweet in the end. But I did enjoy working on something different than my previous work.
22. Improvise a Piece – Palette Leftovers
Following the end of the previous painting session, I knew I was still short one painting for the month of May. And I still had paint left on my palette. So I decided to try a 10 minute piece, improvised. But by the time I was done with it, I had spent 19 minutes on it instead of 10. Therefore I decided to check off “Improvise a piece” instead.
It’s kind of a boring painting in a way, but I really like the blue-green colours and the moody, foggy quality. It reminds me of the first glimmer of sunrise.
I think it would be interesting to see what would have happened if I had kept working on it longer than 19 minutes. But it was fun to use up leftover paint and to purposely not overwork a painting.
Join the 52 in ’22 Art Challenge
It’s never too late to join this flexible art challenge – designed to encourage regular art creation and experimentation!
To read more about the FAQs and get your copy of the printable prompt sheet, check out the main 52 in ’22 Art Challenge post.
Catch Up on Past Months of the Art Challenge
Lastly, if you’d like to see all the other artwork I’ve created since the beginning of the Art Challenge, you can find links to the monthly posts here:
I’m so excited as I’m heading into June with some new supplies and inspiration. I’m also nearing the halfway point of my year long art challenge!
I want to hear from you! Which painting above is your favourite? Or share an idea of how you get yourself out of a creative drought and find inspiration again. Let me know in the comments below!
All the best,