Thursday, December 31, 2015

Paint Your View, an offshoot of Easel on Down the Road

As this year draws to a close, I find myself very thankful for the challenges I took on in 2015. The 16 states I traveled to and painted in are all part of a new knowledge base. I begin to understand the great expanse of our country and the stories buried in dusty towns, rushing rivers and giant skies. I will remember some with fondness and others with a cringe. I will absolutely return to paint in one or more (Utah!).

Then there is the Kickstarter Campaign that helped to fund those travels. That effort required organization and perseverance, clear thinking and more than a little moxie. I was rewarded by friends, family, fans and strangers all pitching in, validating my mission. I developed "products" to thank these fine folks and learned what made sense for both the giver and receiver. The top-tier gifts allowed me to try out something that I intend to market - "Paint Your View".

Paint Your View = an oil painting of whatever landscape you choose. You send me an image (or many), I send back sketches, from those you choose the composition and then I paint. The challenges inherent in this are clear. If I have not actually set my feet down at the edge of your view, it is difficult to call up the visceral response that is natural to plein air painting. Plus, a photograph is a flat interpretation of that landscape at one moment in time. It is only really good for drawing from; the colors and values are rarely realistic.

That being said, I really enjoyed doing these. The challenge to breath life onto a blank canvas is always invigorating; every single one yawns with the infuriating question, "How good ARE you?" Added to this was the requirement to connect to the customer's vision of their special place. Was it full of childhood memories, the site of a proposal for marriage or simply a beautiful vista? In the end, I worked hard to keep the voice of the client OUT of my head. Any inner dialogue can freeze out creativity. I tried to remember that they like my work. My primary goal was to paint with integrity and follow my instincts.

And so, I have finished 9 out of 10 (the last one is slated for a Spring anniversary gift). In some ways, they are illustrations, being representations of important places. I learned that what I paint is not as important as how I paint. And, that is why these commissions are gratifying. I can do what I love and bring happiness to others at the same time. Thank you to all of my "Paint Your View" clients: Laurie Goshorn, Alan McPhail, Mary Kay Baker, Carol Lavin, Elizabeth DeJonge, Cathy Koch, Julia Poepping, Craig Ryan, Deb Wierenga and Scott Taylor. Here are some of their pieces.

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