The Writer/Artist Is Finding Her Voice

More and more often I find my paintings overlapping with my writing.  To put that more clearly, I find that the characteristics of my painting style overlap with those of my writing style.  In other words, I’m finding my voice.

Today I worked on a painting I started earlier this week.  I was pretty happy with the way it had gone – two large areas of color divided by a textured diagonal “line.”  One side was a soft aqua I’d mixed myself.  The other was Hooker’s green.  The line was red with Naptholene Carmine against Indian Yellow Hue.  So far, so good.

But when I looked at it last night, the whole thing felt too flat, with a kind of Stepford-wives too-perfect quality.

While I admire great technical ability, I’m not drawn to “perfect” paintings as things I want on my own walls any more than I’m drawn to “perfect” writing which always feels cumbersome and stilted to me.

I want rougher edges.

After looking last night, I over-painted with a lot of other colors, not sure where I was going with it (“paint, then think”) and left it to dry.  This morning I knew where I was going.

I mixed up my soft aqua again and painted that half, then painted the Hooker’s green.  But now, of course, there was something going on under those layers, something I liked a lot and I heard myself say, as if I were working on a novel or a short story, “Now there’s some character.”

Now it has depth, some rougher edges, and has become – like what I think of as the best literary characters – rich and complex.  Textured.  Not perfect.  Interesting.

This new “character” on my canvas, whoever he or she is, has been around and has a story to tell.  Maybe that’s the whole reason I’ve moved from writing to painting.  More characters.  More stories.  More life.

One of my favorite drawing workshops was run by a woman who loved to show us the flaws in masterworks.  She’d bring in slides of those masterworks and then point out the problems the artists had had.  Hands and feet gave a lot of them trouble.  Or maybe it was a nose or an impossible angle, a shadow in the wrong place.

It was encouraging to those of us thinking we had to make things perfect, and it was also instructive when we considered what art was really about.

Mirrors reflect perfectly accurate images.  Art reflects life.









Once in a Blue Moon…


I once had a business I called Blue Moon Flowers because once in a blue moon something wonderful happens and opening my own floral design shop was wonderful.

If I were going to give my art “business” a name now, I might call it Blue Moon Studio because another wonderful thing has happened.  I’ll have an art show later this summer or early fall in a small San Diego gallery.

Those of us who do not have traditional studios where we can hang our art or invite potential viewers to a show have been blessed with the innovative concept of a rent-a-wall gallery initiated by Patric Stillman, owner/artist of the Studio Door Gallery in San Diego’s North Park arts district.

In the space adjoining the main gallery, Patric has created a wonderful small gallery for the rest of us, HYPE Gallery, where for a month or two – and for a modest fee – we can hang our work, be there to meet with guests, sell our art with no commission and generally take the first steps toward becoming full-time professionals.

We do all the work – marketing, installation, gallery sitting, whatever it takes.  Others may call it work, but I call it joy!  As a born entrepreneur, I know that doing what you love is never just about doing what you love in the studio, the flower shop, on a writing gig or anywhere else.  There’s always the rest of the work and if you can’t enjoy that, too, you may be in the wrong place.

Aside from donating a couple of pieces for fundraising auctions, this will be the first time my paintings have been out in the world beyond this site.  I was more than pleased when Patric welcomed my work with enthusiasm, and I look forward to spending the summer preparing everything – finishing touches on the paintings, artist’s statement, postcards, you name it.  If you’ve been there, you’ve done that.

As author John Gardner once wrote, Good luck is nothing but being in shape to act with the Universe when the Universe says “Now!”

I want to be in the best shape possible and have already been busy laying out a plan for what to hang where  (see above).  I know this is not winning the grand prize in any competition, but for the entrepreneurial me, it couldn’t be a better opportunity.

If I make sales from this first venture into the market, I’ll consider it a bonus.  The fun will be in putting together the show and meeting people who come.  I’m a hands-on face-to-face kind of person and can’t wait to see what happens next.


HYPE Gallery/Studio Door, San Diego (the artist is Sarah Soward)