For your enjoyment and edification today I have selected from my personal collection not one but two tiny paintings of Iggy and Egor, my mutant mongrels. I’m not going to talk too much about the dogs, because I’m sure I’ll be talking about them frequently and boring the life out of everyone on this blog. I am featuring these little canvases because they are some of the first paintings I’ve done in over twenty years.
When I was nine and ten I took oil painting classes and I remember really enjoying it. I can’t recall exactly why I stopped the classes – I guess I’ve always chalked it up to becoming a squirrelly teenager…. I do remember my mother criticizing me at some point and that may have done it. I’m not sure. But at any rate, except for ceramics and drawing in high school, I didn’t paint as a teenager. I started painting again in my twenties, but again I was dealt some unfair criticism and took it very hard. I put the brushes away and the acrylics dried up in their tubes.
Fast forward to October of 2011 when we were clearing out my mom’s house when she first had Alzheimers, and I found one of the still-lifes I had done as a ten-year-old. It was really really good. It was already an emotional week but I cried so hard because at the time I painted it, I just didn’t think I was any good at all. But no way did this painting look like a ten-year-old did it. I just felt like “Wow, I did have talent…” and “Why don’t I paint again???” I bought paint, brushes and canvases when I returned home and started fooling around – turning my dining room into an art studio and making a huge mess. An artist friend who had been to MCAD gave me a few pointers and I was on my way. I purchased some larger canvases and was struggling with subject matter and all the old criticisms were still floating around in the back of my head. Ok, they were in the front of my head as well. I had a lot of anxiety. I was supposed to be enjoying this. What’s the matter with me? I guess you don’t really get over those messages from when you were young that easily – they do last a lifetime.
So one day I was at Dick Blick’s – an art supply store – and I noticed these teeny tiny canvases – they’re 3″ x 3″. At last – inspiration!! I just thought “Yes! I can do little portraits of my favorite subjects, big mutt and the other big mutt!!!” I did these in no time flat and didn’t even really need to look at the dogs or pictures of them, which is huge for me. I did realize when I was finished that these little portraits are very similar in style to a women in town here who does pet portraits, but I’m not making this my trade or anything – it’s just for fun – it’s supposed to be fun, remember?
So I’ve still got some large canvases waiting to be gessoed and painted, and masterpieces waiting to be made, but for now it’s all about the baby steps, just little canvassed baby steps.