Slow to Start

After talking to several college counselors, I was unable to work out the finances and logistics of finishing my 4 year degree. I’m either going to have to let that dream go… or be about 70 when I finally get it. Either way is fine with me.

Meanwhile, during the process, I decided that my ultimate desire is to keep painting and keep improving at it. At this point in my life I have no illusions of being a well-known artist, but I do still crave the personal satisfaction of learning and doing all I can within my own little world.

When I was young, I didn’t have the patience for tedious things like I do now.

There’s a famous concept about achieving goals… that you have to enjoy the journey (or the process) instead of just the end result. And oddly enough, I have learned to do just that. I have TREMENDOUS patience for the sometimes tedious tasks involved in the “journey.” And it has taken a long time to learn, but learn it, I have.

For instance, I love to knit. And on a knitting forum once, I saw someone comment that she loved to knit so much – that if she was stranded on a desert island with one ball of yarn, she would make what she could with it. And because she truly loved the process, she would then tear the whole thing out so she could knit again with the same yarn. And she would keep doing it until the yarn wore out.

Well, that’s how I feel about artsy things. I no longer mind tearing out a day’s worth of knitting to start over because it isn’t right. I will gladly gesso over a failed painting to re-use the canvas for another try. Last year I spent $100 and 60 hours on two mosaic panels that came out hideous. I immediately put them in the trash and was glad to see them go.

A lot of people praise the things I do – but you must remember that I don’t show the failures. And there are a lot of them.

Soooo…. during my recent “degree search” I came across some online classes. One in particular stood out… The artist is Mark Carder (Who I have to confess I did not know of) but boy, when I began to look into his career and methods, I was blown away. And for the first time, he is giving an online class at a much lower price than it costs to travel to Austin, Texas to take one of his workshops. I immediately signed up.mark carder

To check him out, his website is… Get a load of his gorgeous Presidential portraits!!!

He also maintains a “how-to’ website here: which consists of enough videos to study on your own if you don’t want to take a class. Generous stuff.

Since then, I’ve spent hours watching the videos and gathering class supplies. It is amazingly technical! Which I love!

So for over a month I’ve been getting ready…

  • First I sold my over-sized living room furniture and got smaller stuff that I could move around to accommodate studio space.
  • Bought a small TV which my son-in-law mounted on the wall for me – and then had to pay a service call to the cable company to get it hooked up!
  • Installed wall shelving to hold supplies and canvases
  • Ordered paints and mediums (linseed oil, stand oil, clove oil, etc) that I didn’t have…
  • Built a “shadow box” out of black foam core – I even did my own take on it and put it together with velcro so I can take it apart when not painting and put it away. That’s a pretty short term solution, but will work for now.
  • Got light stands to hold the two 85W compact florescent bulbs (each equivalent to 350 watts) needed for “studio light.” (Honestly, it looks like Moses will be descending Mt. Sinai any moment now in my living room!)
  • Made a light box to set over the shadow box and even wired up the special bulb to a cord myself!
  • Hung black draperies along one wall in front of the bookcases to cut glare – but did so with S-hooks so they can come down when I’m not painting.
  • Special ordered glass for a palette.
  • My son, the woodworker, custom made me a “proportional divider” and a set of “color checkers” to use with this method of painting. (Thanks Brad!)
  • Ordered glass mason jars to mix the paint in and special little “sticks” to mix each color with.
  • Completely destroyed my pretty little living room
  • Stained the canvases and the back of the glass palette a neutral brown – which had to dry for 48 hours
  • Agonized over which objects to set up for the still life – took several triesIMG_3818 (picture posted here, but hard to visualize)
  • Used the proportional divider to make the pencil sketch on the canvas
  • Watched the 5 hour class video to make sure I had done everything right and could start mixing paint

And all the while, I emailed my progress steps to Mark Carder who has not only answered promptly, but been very helpful in making minor adjustments along the way.

Phew! And I haven’t even started painting yet!

But I will soon…

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