“Moments”, 20 x 16 oil on linen
by Susan Patton
April 6, 2015
6:30 AM I wake up refreshed, finally, after an intense week at an art workshop. (My mother, Dot Courson, hosted a Kim English workshop last week.) Along with his “boot camp” style of painting that teaches capturing figures quickly, I also had my own challenges of getting my kids there every day to either serve as a model at the workshop or complete lessons in their homeschooling. This required a car load of options for costumes and school books, along with my painting gear (that usually included unwashed brushes from the day before because of falling into bed exhausted.) This morning, I wake up after a good nights rest, and wonder what I should do first catch up on laundry or dishes. Instead, I grab a cup of coffee and sit in my familiar chair where I read my morning devotion and pray for all those I have jotted down to pray for on the front and back of 2 index cards. These names include my former art instructors at these workshops, because they have encouraged me and I ask God to bless them and lead them.
7:30 AM I get up from my chair and begin the day.
3:30 PM School is finished for the day. Some clothes from the laundry room have amazingly and successfully reached the right destination. I glance in my art studio and decide that I should paint. A surge of adrenaline and excitement fill me with extra energy as I begin to dive into this great privilege of painting.
3:45 PM I look through photographs, and choose one that I took this past week at my Mom’s house. It is of Faith and Cane (Mom’s dog.) I took it one evening after Faith had been the model at Kim English’s workshop. She was so tired, and came in her Nana’s house and found a cozy chair away from the crowd. Cane made his way over to her to sit quietly with her. As I came down the hall toward them, I saw the beautiful lighting of this scene and snapped a picture with my phone.
I pick up an 8 x 10 canvas (being conservative), but quickly and boldly put it down and grab a 16 x 20 linen canvas and decide to do this one for Mom.
I choose my colors: Rembrandt permanent red, Cad yellow, Ultramarine blue, black and white. I pre-mix piles of color on my wooden easel with my palette knife large piles of dark and then light values on the opposite side.
I grab a brush and draw the general design that I want, and then start painting.
I start with where I want Faith, and then paint the darks around her, staying true to the color temperatures and values. I don’t paint all over the canvas at once this time as I have done many times, but almost fill in from left to right- an unusual approach for me, but it is feeling right.
5:30 PM I feel hungry, but it its hard to stop when I feel I am on a role. I stop long enough to eat a quick bite of supper and get back to work.
6:00 PM I continue painting, noting where the lightest lights are and the strongest edge work should be. I also see that I want to connect Faith and Cane where the values and color are so similar at their legs. By this time I am holding about 4 or 5 brushes simultaneously in my hands to keep the values and colors accurate and clean. It keeps me focussed and quick more than washing between values.
9:00 PM I begin to referee the kids towards bed, keeping my mind in gear on my painting the whole time, it seems.
11:15 PM I paint like a ninja now, quietly placing the brushes down and moving slowly around the room since my studio is in the center of the house and everyone is asleep . Finally, I have covered the entire canvas, and I “halt” the painting not letting myself go back into the individual parts of it to tweak anything. I call it a night, and my painting, “done.” I text Mom a picture of it and let her know it is hers. I name the painting, “Moments”, because it captured a time that Faith needed a “Moment” alone, Cane needed a “Moment” with Faith, and the whole scene revealed just one of the “Moments” that I don’t want to forget.(This picture also shows a Dawn Whitelaw portrait study in the background. I keep it visible in a place I can study it often.)