Epiphany – the mobile studio is changing how I paint

You know how with an idea or plan that hasn’t happened yet, often there’s a snapshot somewhere in the back of your mind that represents it? Maybe you can articulate it, maybe you can’t. Often, I don’t know what I subconsciously envisioned until I see the real deal and say something along the lines of, “I pictured…”.

In retrospect, my snapshot summarizing the Mobile Art Studio concept was me, with the studio, down on the wide gravel bar by the Knik River in Palmer, mountains jutting in every direction.

This is a stone’s throw from my house, but also someplace I probably otherwise wouldn’t paint because with my setup it takes too much to schlep all the supplies out there – and then, for what? I’m not a plein air painter (yet).

But with the studio, all supplies would be on board. I could paint indoors or out. I could chat with people.

As I imagined this I was, of course, seated at the kitchen table in my very non-mobile home, with my table easel set up, maybe with a podcast going. I was imagining a different future and trying to paint my way into it.

What surprised me this morning is realizing that I won’t just bring my painting to the places I visit and pick up a brush exactly the same as I would anyplace else. These places will inform how I paint, and likely change my art.

The very idea of the mobile studio is that somedays are sunny; some are rainy. I might set up outside or in. Or, like this morning, the wind blew so persistently – as it does in the high desert – that by the time I arrived outside at a park picnic table where I’d set up to paint, my water had tipped over and (lidded) palette with all the paint colors had flipped. Red mixed with black mixed with yellow and pink.

I used to have a controlled environment that enabled me to create and recreate almost the same context for paintings every day. There was no breeze. The lighting was consistent. I controlled the temperature.

This was both reassuring for the part of me that loves reliability and organization, and soul killing for the part that needs challenge and change.

Well, a flipped palette to start a painting session is certainly challenge and change. I decided to roll with it and have fun with the painting, feeling a little looser – like the wind still roiling around as I held down my palette with my palm, painting with the other hand – than I usually would.

The paint flowed easily. I didn’t allow myself to stop and inspect as often as I otherwise might. I just kept it moving. Even at points where I wasn’t sure what I was doing was adding up, I just kept on fluidly working.

The painting itself isn’t done yet, as the epiphany isn’t. But it is dawning on me that alongside my life circumstances changing, my approach to painting itself and thus my art is changing and growing. I am down on that gravel bar now, but I can actually feel the breeze on my face and the light shifting as the clouds skid around. The dream is alive, and it – somehow shockingly – very much is real life in all of its sensations and challenges. I love it, but differently than I subconsciously imagined.

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