Journal After Italy (Part 4)

“You must think of your time in the studio as an investment. You have to think of layers of your time.

As an artist, each layer may ultimately be illuminating and help the work.”

—Tamara Gayer Art/Work

“The New Mother” oil on canvas, 11x14 inches

“The New Mother” oil on canvas, 11x14 inches

Sept. 2019: I’ve been reading over old journal entries from two years ago, searching for meaning.

(This series begins with: “Journal After Italy” Parts One, Two and Three but you don’t need to read them in order.)

December 1, 2017

In general, I am feeling melancholy and delicately mortal. Life is so short. This week I have sacrificed my studio time to nurture relationships…because relationships are most important. But I want to start fresh on Monday with prioritizing my studio work. Because I have so many friends and family who want and/or need my time, I could easily make that a full time job.

I feel emotionally spent.

It’s very healing to sit here in the sunshine with the cat, feeling this warmth and quiet peace.

Cat sketches. (pen and paper)

Cat sketches. (pen and paper)

“I miss the solidity of work in art and the depth of concentration.”

Anne Truitt, Turn


Dec. 4th, 2017


Allowing myself some sketching time feels healthy. I must resist rigidity. Take deep breaths. What a wonderful vocation!

“Mother and infant” pencil sketches

“Mother and infant” pencil sketches

Dec. 5th, 2017


Taking a little tea-break by the fire, mid-studio session. I’m home, which takes a little extra self-discipline. I thrive in my routine. I’m allowing myself steady hours of solitude to explore, create, put colors beside each other and see what happens. I can’t help but feel that what I’m doing is rather infantile. Shouldn’t I be working in a more “serious” way?

But, what of it?

There is an earnest sincerity below the surface, which is why my time is so crucial. I can’t just achieve it right away, I need the leisure to sneak in “through the back door.”

I’m trying really hard not to check social media. I know it’s negative for my spirit…

“Volevo scriverti lettere…” (I wanted to write you letters…) oil on canvas, 11x14 inches

“Volevo scriverti lettere…” (I wanted to write you letters…) oil on canvas, 11x14 inches

Dec. 6th, 2017

So very tired. I worked on my blog/newsletter from 9-12. Then I painted 12-2, my “I wanted to write you a letter” still life. The only thing I really love about it is the pencil. I’m very pleased with the pencil, how the color changes in such a lovely way where the shadow falls across it. I’m worried I may have ruined the painting, fussed over it too much…but oh well, it’s all in the pursuit of learning what the paint will do.

“Mistakes are little windows into what is possible.”

—Laura Owens, New Yorker, Oct. 2017, “Think Big”


Dec. 20th, 2017

I feel so empty, a gross cavern of emptiness. I hate myself. I mourn the loss of [a friendship]. I hate it. This morning was awful…maybe after I finish this journal I will burn it.

“Moral goodness is the result of habit.”

— Aristotle


Jan. 1st, 2018

Last night I dreamed I was nursing a baby. It wasn’t my baby, but I was happy to be nursing it. I had plenty of milk: I was full of abundance!

First day in the studio in FOREVER! Feels great!


Jan. 5th, 2018

So today Ian took off work [because the kids had another snow day] and I got to come into the studio. I’m working on a big painting. (Big for me: 18x24”) And it’s hard. I’m still working with this new technique I like, mixing colors and applying them with a palette knife. But I can feel myself getting progressively sloppier and lazier with the color-mixing. So, it’s a subtle balance of trying to be strict about that, but also to allow for spontaneity. My inner voice keeps saying: “You’re being self-indulgent,” as I sensuously, and with real, physical pleasure, lay on the paint.

But even if this painting flops, which I’m sure it will, it’s important for me to do. I know I’m learning more about the paint itself, and pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone….

I’m just going to jump into it and paint passionately! I don’t have to make a good painting. It’s fine. It can be bad. I’m learning. I’m allowed to learn.

I miss having a teacher.

Just the experience of painting daily. That is my teacher.

Am I doing this art-thing right? Am I making a big mistake?

No. This feels right.

“A Space Has Opened Up…”  oil on canvas, 18x24 inches

“A Space Has Opened Up…” oil on canvas, 18x24 inches

Jan. 30th, 2018

So, today I didn’t paint, but I got myself sorted out and made brownies.

I carried a few works-in-progress paintings to the studio and looked at them. (Palette-knife interiors of women by windows, one pregnant, one breastfeeding.)

I realized that I sort of know what direction I want to head in. I want to explore these shapes, these careful colors, these explorations of spaces that I create with color, with shape, this mood…

I really feel authentically inside myself that I want to go in this new direction. I feel happy about it. It’s also very refreshing to feel like I actually know what I want to explore, for myself and not for others.

“Meghan, pregnant” work in progress, oil on canvas 10x8 inches

“Meghan, pregnant” work in progress, oil on canvas 10x8 inches

“Joy does not come from what you do, it flows into what you do and thus into this world from deep within you.”

— Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth