Science fiction author, Robert A. Heinlein, created a set of rules for authors to follow. The very first one is: You must write.
I have been following his rules for writing for a year now. If you’ve been following my writing during this time, you’ve seen it.
What I haven’t been doing (not just in the last year, but for several years actually) is painting. It has been so very hard for me to paint since my mother’s death. I don’t know why. I can’t even say that event triggered anything in me to stop painting — it’s just that’s a vivid marker in my life. I just slowly ground to a halt with the painting. Not because I wanted to either. I love pictures and images and every time I’d go looking to get inspired, I would until that moment I went to sit down. Then it all fell apart and I would just not paint.
Recently, I had someone ask me: Aren’t you a painter, and a good artist in my opinion, so why do you want to write? Certainly not a direct quote, but that was the gist of it. After a year of having my foot on the writing gas pedal, this comment made me crash. I don’t know if the person who made the comment has read anything I’ve written. Frankly, it doesn’t matter. Me sitting in my car sobbing does.
I asked myself if I wanted to give up painting. Not writing — there’s no way I’m going to stop writing. I have done that (not by my choice) and I love telling stories. I hope I never go through another bout of not writing again. Writing has always been the gift that I was born with. I’ve been a storyteller all my life. Yet painting has been the talent that I discovered. I use to think that anyone could learn to paint. In fact, I still believe that. If you want to paint or draw, go get some books, watch YouTube videos, just do it. Try it. What have you really lost? But, I have had the opportunity over the years to see that I do have some innate ability within me for drawing and painting. It scares the living daylights out of me. What scares me even more is painting without a plan. I paint like I write: completely in the dark. Okay, so I start off with some sparkle of an idea, then I start and I see where it takes me. In writing, I can always delete or rewrite the words; I’m unstuck in time so I can move around in the story as I need to. Painting isn’t like that. In my opinion, I’ve flat messed up some paintings because I made a mistake and tried to correct it. I’ve painted over a number of canvases (in fact, I’m setting up a blog for next week to show the progression of a failed painting to one I really like). In the end, let’s just say that painting is a process I know I have to trust, like writing, but it terrifies me.
I’m sure writing in the dark (that means writing without a plan or an outline) at one point scared me like painting in the dark does to me now. TER-RI-FIED!
But, I also had this anger, poked by the comment made to me. How the hell (yes, I’m swearing!) could I consider myself a painter if I wasn’t painting?
That seems like a no-brainer.
Writers write. Painters paint. Duh.
(Don’t say anything about comics right now. Yes, I still want to do illustrations and comics, but I realize that my time is limited by the other constraints of my life. I will get back to doing that as well, but it’s intentionally on the back burner for now. So don’t ask!)
So, knowing that I still wanted to paint and that I still loved being surrounded by all my art books — I am still too excited by them to donate them (which was a clue in my decision), I said that I had to do the same thing with my painting that I am doing with my writing: I had to follow Heinlein’s rules.
Rule #1: You must paint.
Very simple. Not a new concept. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve delved into that here on this blog before if you wanted to go digging back through it. Heck, I kept reminding myself of how many posts I wrote about how far one could get by just working at something for 15 minutes per day. Yeah, that was me. I said that. I wrote that. So why in the blazes wasn’t I doing that?
TER-RI-FIED — remember?
But rule #1 states that I had to paint.
This actually led to the reorganization of my office in order to put my painting in with my writing.
(That also put off painting for two more days.)
Then, when my office was settled enough for me to get to work, then I had to get to it. Oh, sh&$! The rubber was hitting the road.
I had decided to start small. But I wanted to work a little larger than ACEO’s which are 2.5″x3.5″ – basically trading card sized art. I decided to pull out some of my 5″x7″ canvases. Just practice I told myself. Nothing serious. Okay, let’s paint what I know. What do I know? Trees. Okay, paint a sunset, mountains, and a tree, just like I’ve done for nearly all of my 300+ ACEO’s. Yes, that’s right. I’ve painted more than 300 ACEO’s — most painted right into the dark without a plan and it scares me every time, especially when I feel they’ve turned out good.
I admit, I just had to go look up how many ACEO’s I’ve painted for this blog. The number surprised me. Now I’m even laughing a bit just because I can’t believe I’m letting this stupid fear grip me so. Stupid!
But, that’s what I had to do in order to get myself to pull out paints. In fact, I didn’t even get all of them out. Here’s a picture of my palette at the moment with the original 6 colors I set out marked.
With just those colors, I created this:
Then, a day or so later, I painted this:
Then I added the remaining colors which you see on the palette above and I painted this:
Overall, it’s a start, or restart. I didn’t think to start taking progression pictures soon enough, but I’ll show some shot of the creation of this third piece tomorrow.
If nothing else, I can say that I am following rule # 1- I am painting.