Painting and the Beauty of a Day Spent Outside

Today was one of those gorgeous “early spring in mid February” days here in the South. I woke up this morning with the intention of spending the entire day outside on the deck.

I did just that.

Dean and I shared a pot of coffee in the kitchen, chatting and catching up on Facebook messages before heading out. I grabbed up all my painting supplies, a notebook and a book to read then headed out to my spot on the deck.

The day was windy and mostly cloudy but the air was dry and warm. Shorts and t-shirt weather for sure. I read some in the book (“2001 A Space Odyssey” by Arthur C. Clarke) and then set out to paint.

It’s been awhile since I’ve painted anything of significance. Many years ago (after my divorce) I bought some cheap acrylic paints, brushes and stretched canvas. Needing an outlet for grief, I decided to give it a go. With no art education other than a single art class in my senior year of high school, I had no idea about technique. I just sat down with my supplies and thought, what the hell.

The first few attempts were horrendous, as was to be expected. However, the more I painted, the better I got. In fact, through trial and error I discovered what worked and what didn’t. I’d even begun developing my own personal style.

What hurts me now, looking back, is that I gave almost all of my work to Goodwill after I married Dean and packed up my stuff to move to the Atlanta area. I have nothing save a few small pieces from that period in my life.

Looking at my paints today I thought that maybe there was a little of the budding artist still residing inside. So, I did what I do best.

I decided to give it another shot.

A few weeks ago I sat down with a canvas and tubes of the primary colors. I did a simple Rothko-ish blue/yellow/red wash with the colors intersecting to make orange and green at the junctures. It was pretty, but I got distracted and put the canvas aside.

Today, I made something out of it.


Not too shabby, considering I stumbled upon a kind of technique for making “flowers.”The texture of the brush strokes and pops of color make an interesting contrast.

After setting this aside to dry, I took a tiny canvas, covered it with purple paint and then set it aside to dry, too.

A few hours later, I grabbed the purple canvas and began making “stars.” This consisted of flicking a paintbrush full of white paint over the canvas, creating constellations of white stars. My first attempt was more than amateur. Instead of perfectly round dots I had several little commas.

Not all was lost, however.

I painted a full moon near the top in the same white color, then found a silver paint I’d bought over a decade ago. I tapped some onto the moon, then put a little over each of the largest stars. This gave the stars a rather nebulous appearance.

At that point, I got the wild idea to dab silver paint all over the sky. With my fingers. Oh wow, what an exciting thing to go at something with wild abandon and unafraid of the outcome.

At the bottom of the painting I put a thick band of deep purple to represent the sea. After it dried, I added moonlight and waves then called it a day.

If anything can come from this blog post, I hope it is this: don’t be afraid to take a risk on something, even if it’s something you’ve not done in a long time. The process of creation is an exciting one. You never know where the project may lead, and you may learn something valuable in the process.

The two paintings I made today differed in appearance but both hold the key to what I know I am capable of producing. Today is the beginning of what I hope will be a long creative span of painting. It excites me to think what these hands will make next. I’ve got plenty of canvas and paint to last me for at least a couple of weeks.

What have you been putting off doing for a long time? What’s stopping you from beginning it today? Make a commitment to reacquaint yourself with your passions.

Find happiness there.

Photos of “Nebulous Night” and “Flower Field Test Run” both by Francie Klopotic.


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