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A Good Day

A couple of pages in my sketchbook with pastels, paint pens and oil crayon

Yesterday I made three paintings, start to finish, on 9″ x 12″ paper. Usually I’ve wanted to paint on biggish canvases. And I work on them for many days, weeks, or even months, changing this or that, maybe changing them completely by the time I’m happy with them. But I made those three paintings and loved them all, in just a few hours!

It was so much fun! I did not intend for any of them to be complete paintings. I was just playing around with stuff, trying out on bigger paper some of the things I’d been doing in my sketchbook. Mixing pastels with acrylic paints. Adding bits of collage. Etc.

I made this earlier in the week, on cheap paper, very unlike my usual bright palette. Love it anyway!

Ever since I saw the Georgia O’Keefe show at MoMA last summer, I’ve been playing with pastels, always along with another medium. Fun! She was experimenting with media and I wanted to, too. I really know nothing about how to properly use pastels but I’ve had a box of them for years and years. I love the tactile enjoyment of spreading the color around on the paper with my fingers, mixing the colors together, making that lovely soft layer. And then I love the surprises that happen when I try something else on top of it.

I taped off the edges of three pieces of watercolor paper from a partially used pad of paper I bought at a thrift shop for $3. So right there, I had very little at stake, in terms of cost. But taping the edges does give a certain finished look to a painting, even one you’re just playing around with, sort of sets a brief that says, “You are making a painting.” And one does want to make something pleasing whenever possible. One doesn’t want to end up with something that looks like “a dog’s breakfast,” as the Brits say.

This is my favorite of the three paintings from yesterday.

I used all kinds of things on these. Fun! Pastel, acrylic paint, pieces of gel plate prints that I had previously made on deli paper (so much fun right there), Posca pens, scraps of previously painted paper, a bit of oil pastel, a tiny scrap of origami paper on two of them. I did not use a brush on them at all, just a handy old credit card for applying paint. I just had a glorious time, playing about with all of these things, like a child. That’s the thing about painting. It takes one back to childhood, at least if as a kid you had crayons or a box of paints. And even moreso if you use your fingers.

But then to also LOVE the finished pieces–well, that is a huge bonus! And it does not always happen. It was a good day.

“It’s a good day to have a good day.”— Hoda Kotb

“Waking up this morning, I smile. 24 brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment.” — Thich Nhat Hanh

“As you wait for better days, don’t forget to enjoy today, in case they’ve already started.” — Robert Breault

“None of us knows what will happen. Don’t spend time worrying about it. Make the most beautiful thing you can. Try to do that every day. That’s it.” — Laurie Anderson

If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. If you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. And if someone forwarded this one to you, you can sign up here to receive the letters right in your Inbox. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.

Thanks for listening,

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”
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