Monday, April 11, 2011

Learn, forget, re-learn, repeat.

Last week my children had (another!) week-long break from school.  Luckily, two things happened during this time off...the sun was shining and grandma came to visit, doing lots of babysitting and allowing me to continue working on the full list of portrait commissions waiting in my studio.

We were treated to an especially lovely day on Thursday, with the sun shining and the temps right around 70 for most of the day.  Anxious to enjoy the gift of the day, we packed a lunch and headed to our spot on the lake, preparing for a brief visit - the water is probably only about 40 degrees!

I am one of those mom's that cover her kids head-to-toe in swim shirts and sunscreen, tolerating teasing from my siblings "you are such a worrywort! so overprotective!"  Yet this was our first trip to the sand and sun for the year and it was just warm enough to be outside, the water was still freezing, how long would we really be out?  Sunscreen was applied, but barely beyond the shoulders, and Jack ran up and down the cool sand without his swim shirt.

Much to the surprise of my mother and myself, we were still at the beach three hours later, our arms a crisp red and our feet just starting to darken and burn.  Gathering up the kids, who were goosebumpy from the cold water but delighting in sand castles and surfboards, we finally called it a day and headed home.

For three days after we could barely move our shoulders and were rarely seen without slathering aloe over ourselves and the kids.  I was beside myself with frustration at my ignorance, my forgetfulness, and my lack of "mom-sense" - how had I just sat there in the sun for three hours and let my kids crisp?!?

Why didn't I insist on the swim shirt, the full-body spray of SPF 50, the sun hats?  Did I forget what 3 hours of clear sun can do to our skin?

Today in the studio I was faced with another instance of time wiping out years of practice and experience.  I am working on a family portrait (it's a surprise or else I would share!) and I am faced with combining a couple different photos into one in order to capture everyone's likeness as requested by the client.

This is a problem that I am just now remembering facing a few times before - there are references photos of some the subjects in focus, but other reference photos are blurry.  Some of them are in full color, others are in sepia tone.   My goal - my job - is to bring all of these different sources together seemlessly and cohesively in one family portrait.

I know I can do it, and I know HOW I can do it, but I got so far into the painting without considering this issue that I ended up with three figures that don't belong in the same painting.  I have to un-do several hours of work in order to bring the faces together.

Spending several hours in the sun without considering the consequences of skipping the sunscreen, stepping back from a painting and realizing that you have created three separate paintings within one.  Lessons learned, forgotten, and re-learned.  

But you know...these things happen, and getting over it, gathering ourselves up, applying a salve and working our way thru it...that's what we've got to do.  And tomorrow is a new day in the studio, and I will fix that painting! (Plus, my red legs are finally better, so now I can shave that weeks' worth of hair and start fresh!)


Anonymous said...

I once had to do a portrait of 3 grandchildren that had never met. It was definitely a challenge but my client was thrilled with it. You can do it!

Martha Kisling said...

Love to hear how you are combining motherhood and art - wonderful for your kids to grow up seeing you do something that you love!