Thursday, September 3, 2015

Mount Oberlin, a Waterfall, and a Sketch

It's time to be realistic here.  
I feel like I chickened more than one way.  

Have you ever felt that way?  Gosh, that's how I have been feeling and I'm needing to re-train my brain.

I've had the best experience over these summer months.

It felt completely different than before, like I could make some real progress.  Sometime during the second week of August, the Indian Paintbrush paintings were complete.  Those three paintings brought my summer total to nine paintings in less than three months.  It wasn't easy but nothing worth doing ever is, right?  The time had come to clean up and start again.

The great amount of progress I had made during the summer months must have gone to my head.  Or the heat or both?

I say this because I was really feeling ambitious.  Maybe too ambitious?  Okay, my point is this...there's this breath taking view in Glacier National Park that I have wanted to paint for many years.  Each time we drive over the road, known as Going To The Sun, which leads to Logan Pass Visitor's Center, it draws me to take it in the great expanses and massive peaks.  From what I can gather, I believe the peak in this favorite view is Mount Oberlin.  Correct me in the comments if I'm wrong, please.

Off to the right is a small parking area with boardwalk and the mountain goats often graze here.  There are very few parking areas on the Going To The Sun Road and during the peak season, it's really hard to score a parking space.  I took these photos quite a few years ago and it's been on my list of someday paintings.  If it was possible,

I would park myself at the base of this waterfall 
and just soak it up for the whole day.  

The photo below shows the view to the west with the boardwalk that gives a magnificent view.  It's an easy walk and doesn't take very long to complete.  This is a great stop for anyone of any age, families with young children, and I believe (jogging my memory) it's wheel-chair accessible.  The toughest challenge here, like I said earlier, is limited parking.  Early spring and fall are the best times to be sure stopping is more possible.  I remember at the time this photo was taken that a lot of stopping and getting out to move around was really important.  That and a snack bag.

Just gaze at these massive's so hard to grasp their size.  

Somehow these views help me put everything in a different perspective.  These places rejuvenate my spirit and I can't believe I'm alone in this impression.  There's so much to take in with all this panorama.  I must admit that it's taken years to mentally crop down the views to what is a potential composition for art.  My camera requires use of the view finder not the LCD screen and I think that helps.

The waterfall in view below is just a bit to the left when facing the perspective I chose for my sketch.  
As much as I would love to include it, the whole composition feels like a LOT of detail to describe.
This could be another painting in itself.  Can you hear the soft trickle of fresh snow melt tumbling down the rocks?  The lush fresh greens are restful and tie it all together.

A wider view of the full scale shows the individual parts in perspective.  This composition is possible but not the one that struck me as most inspirational.  I really don't fully know what will come of a sketch until it gets underway.  I can have a mental impression or an emotional feeling that it draws within me.  That is still a vague idea and not at all concrete.  It does feel intimidating at times I must admit.  It's very hard to begin but trusting my intuition is most often a worthwhile risk.  It's not that I'm that confident in my ability...don't take my words for arrogance.  My mode is one that trusts that the watercolor painting will become what it should be one step at a time.  The best way to start is where I feel most clearly decided on how I want to approach it...which area I'm strong in my inspiration to act.  That's usually the sky because once it's done, I can protect it and the strongest value pigments (deepest color)  will not be as likely to travel into that area.

It's just a fantastic soul restoring kind of view.  I want to paint this!

Can't you just hear the crisp, icy water trickling softly over the rocks as a 
clean, snow kissed breeze teases your hair?  It's just like that when you're there.  
There's no need to rush, no schedule to keep.  Why hurry to leave this place?

It's like God draws the spirit to just hush and be still...through His creation...
and it's that powerful.

I take a LOT of photos.  
If you know me, you know it's more than true... to the point of obsessive.
My family is very patient with me.  

These are three of the several reference photos I have taken for the purpose of planning a painting.  If there's a view I'm even slightly considering as a future painting, I take a LOT of photos.  I've learned to take up to ten or more because it's hard to predict what details I'll wish I could see better.  With several paintings, I didn't realize this until it was time to sketch it out.  With this one, I feel like these photos will be enough for the details I want to get down on paper.  Maybe there are too many details and it's a struggle to tune some out and find the focal point.  As I worked to sketch this out, I became more aware of how much information is there that I could describe with brushstrokes.

The size of this painting will be 16" x 20" and that's double the size I've been working on this summer.  The last time I attempted a painting this size and scale, it took a year and a half from beginning to end.  There's a major rude awakening for me.  Whoa.  Am I really all in here?

(At the time I wrote this post, my Etsy shop set up had not begun yet.  That's important to note at this point because I was still gathering the courage to go forward.)

I'm struggling with what to do now.  With all the different directions I'm working in to get my feet under me and get an Etsy shop started, this might not be the time to take this painting any further.  I've got one sheet of Arches 300 lb. paper's 22" x 30" and can be broken down into 6 more paintings the size I've been working in.  I can order more but a pack of 5 sheets is roughly $68.  See? Crazy.  My mind is a wreck with all the strategy and over thinking in many different directions.

The Etsy shop needs to be built and open.  I think there's some fear working against me.  New things can be scary and we want to do it right without mistakes, right?  I need to be more courageous and willing to take the risk.  I'll never know otherwise and this is the adventure I want to experience now while the opportunity is here.  What am I waiting for?  

I'm needing to re-train my brain.

This sketch has been good for me to make a step toward beginning this painting.   There's still some mental planning to be done.  I need to mull over what kind of approach I want to take.  Is it really necessary to do this with great detail and realism?  How can I be true to the place but not lose the fresh, loose style I'm developing?  What's the best way for translating my experience with brushstrokes?  I think it's okay to pause now until I have more vision for this piece.  The time isn't right yet.  Having the Etsy task before me and ignoring it would still affect how I work on this...time to stop the procrastinating.  
Many are the tasks the mind makes much harder than they truly are in reality.

Time to stop talking and take action...go do the hard thing.

So you thought you could just read and follow my mental battle without me spurring you on?
Oh, no.  Maybe you could use a kick in the seat of the pants, too.
But I'm not going to do that to you.  I want you to come back!
No, you need to ask yourself what can you push yourself to go forward with,
 even if you're fighting the doubts.  It doesn't have to be art related at all.
What dreams are you putting off, pursuits that would be good for your soul?

We've all got something we put off with excuses because we aren't sure where to start...
or we're afraid of not getting it just right out of the gate.
I'm gearing up to try any way and make some mistakes.  
God gives us these gifts and talents for a reason.  Use it.  Bless someone else with it.

What hard thing are you going to begin going after?


P.S. The Etsy shop opened Tuesday (two days ago).  Yep!  I got that fear under control long enough to go do the hard thing.  It feels beyond fantastic to have gotten this far.  So go do your hard thing because it's going to be worth it!

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