A sure sign of a good weekend is my hands right now: Dirty and dry from gardening, spattered with gesso and paint. How would one take a self-portrait of one's own hands? I can't figure out how to get my hands in the frame and also operate the camera. There is some combination of tripod and remote shutter that I have not yet figured out.
I did a lot of settling in this weekend. Nesting, like I do in the fall, but less about the cycle of the year than having just let the clutter get too out of control. I started Saturday by trying to tidy the studio, but I've run out of places to put things away. A good clean-out is overdue. Disgusted, I went to another room to tidy, but had the same problem. Our stuff is started to overwhelm us again. I did make some progress, but I'm irritated by those corners that are often overlooked - the piles that have been set down because one or the other of us don't know what to do with that stuff, and have been there so long they have become part of the landscape. I want to look around the house and not have to have blinders for those corners. I want each vista to be beautiful, every item to be loved. Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful - William Morris
Another thing I'm overwhelmed by is magazines. I have a bad magazine habit. I love to buy them, but then they collect. Often I read part of them, then they get abandoned, piled, saved for a time when I can get back to them. I save them so I can tear them up, save the bits that I want to remember. House design or style, images that capture my attention for my journal. Tips and recipes. I should apply the junk mail rule more often to my magazines: Touch them only once. So I spent some time tearing up and discarding old magazines. I think I need to make an inspiration wall in the studio, but in the mean time, I made a collage in my journal of images that my magpie eyes alighted on. Always an interesting exercise, to see the patterns that emerge. What surprised me most was the colors - brighter than I'm usually drawn to.
I bought a big canvas this weekend. I've been wanting to paint bigger. A craving that is getting hard to ignore. I don't really have space in my studio, the way it is currently set up, to paint big. This is one of my biggest frustrations in my current working space. But I've been putting off reorganizing, putting off fulfilling the craving, just generally ignoring this voice, the one I know I should be listening to. So I bought a canvas that I don't have enough room to paint, to force the issue. It is leaning against the desk, staring at me. It scares me, a little. I'm not sure yet what it wants to be. I have some ideas, and some sketches. I started fooling around with one idea in watercolor in my new Moleskine watercolor journal, which is a similar shape to the new canvas. Then I shied away and started painting something else. I got out the M.Graham artist's gouache paints that I bought recently and hadn't yet tried and started sketching from a photo I'd torn out of a magazine. How is it that I have missed gouache as a medium all these years? I have had some tubes of designer's gouache in my paint box for years that someone gave me (from their studio clean-out), but I don't think I'd ever tried them. I ordered these M. Graham tubes when I was ordering some watercolor tubes recently, because I've been reading about botanical illustration and I really like the look of some of the pieces painted in gouache.
But even more, I like painting with it. And I didn't even know it. Gouache is somewhere between watercolor and acrylic, the two mediums I most often switch between. Water-soluoble, like watercolors, but with the ability to be opaque, like acrylic. I can control the opacity by thinning the wash, like I do with acrylic paints, and I can layer to my heart's content without making a big muddy mess, which is what I often end up with when using watercolors. Also, the paints have a bit of a sheen from the medium that makes the colors sort of glow. I *love* this stuff (click the picture for a bigger image). I can get the lovely blended delicacy of wet-in-wet watercolor, but also go back in and correct colors until they are just right by layering color over color. But the best part is that I can also lift out - the one thing I wish I could do with acrylics, but once they dry they are bonded plastic.
That scary canvas, still blank, is to thank for this fantastic discovery. Who says avoidance techniques are always bad?