I was having a hard time figuring out what to paint during the 30 Paintings in 30 Days challenge in February. I like to plan it out so that I’m not wasting time scratching my head every day staring at a blank canvas. I’ve been wanting to do some more skyline paintings, but I was coming up short with reference photos, and the weather wasn’t giving me what I wanted either.
I saw a soup commercial that said something like, “What’s the best thing about January? It’s not February.” Gasp! Not cool. I started making a mental list that turned into an actual list of all the awesomeness (some local) that happens in February. The list grew, and suddenly I had a theme for my paintings. I present February’s Best:
Happy February, everyone! Look for my daily-ish paintings on my Instagram feed after I get over the flu. No, my February is not off to a great start. Thank goodness there's so much to look forward to.
It’s different! I set and review goals for myself twice a year, January and August. In January I plan out the entire year ahead, and in August I review and plan for my next “season” of painting after mostly taking the summer off. Here’s my forecast for 2018:
Note: As I typed this, I received an email newsletter from James Clear titled Forget About Setting Goals. Try This Instead. Come on! He is a proponent of setting up the right process or system for your activity, which gives you more consistent satisfaction. Whereas goals can be like Christmas morning. So exciting when it happens, but then what motivates you? I think the two work together, influencing and responding to each other. He and I both agree that the type of goal you’re setting for yourself is important. My goals right now are to create the right systems and work habits so that I can happily continue painting every (eh) day, as well as try new things to help me figure out which direction to take my career. I like the give-and-take Clear describes at the end of his newsletter: ". . . goals are good for planning your progress, and systems are good for actually making progress."
This is my third painting of the Carbit Paint water tower. It stands out to me because it’s located in an upscale retail and condo area that has quickly bloomed in the last ten years. It has been right there since 1955, sitting on a lower building than most other water towers. You can practically stand right under it from the sidewalk (I’ve painted this dramatic view), but you also get good views from the surrounding parking garages (I’ve parked here for minimally dramatic shopping).
The immediate area has low- to medium-height buildings, and if you get in just the right spot, you can also see the skyscapers of downtown Chicago behind it. For this painting, I wanted all layers of architecture so that I could paint with many different values to achieve the right atmospheric perspective. Dark, warmer buildings up front gradually disintegrating into blue haziness toward the horizon.
The reference photo I took was from a late-afternoon winter day, so I got that pretty, clear sky fade from cerulean blue to pale yellow because the sun is low in the sky. A bright but still subdued color palette on top of the darkness of the buildings. And I added one of my favorite elements of a cityscape: thick puffs of white smoke rolling off a roof.
When I finished this one, I had a lot of paint left on my palette, so I did a teeny tiny painting of a different but very similar city view. The water tower seen here isn’t the Carbit Paint tower, but it is across the street. This view is from the parking lot of a movie theater (we saw Ferdinand. Apparently a Peyton Manning vehicle!).
Later is what?
After settling into various desk jobs, I always said I'd get back to painting later in life, and later is now. Again means that I tried once before. I decided to write about my painting endeavor, too, as a learning tool, an accountability tool, and to stay sharp in case I have to go back to a desk job. Again.
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