Wednesday, September 21, 2011

DWP Challenge... sort of...

Ever since discovering the Daily Paintworks website and their weekly challenges. I have really wanted to try one. The Zippo Challenge is the one I most wanted to try first. You use only titanium white, ultramarine blue and burnt sienna on your palette and nothing else. To be frank, I had to force myself into my studio. And after only a few brushstrokes, I wiped the entire canvas board clear.

I've been in a horribly depressed state for the past few weeks. 6 months of chronic pain and exhaustion and the return of my mother's cancer? Not exactly what I'd call conducive to happiness and joy. I was wandering about the house aimlessly. My appetite all but vanished. I spent many of my days feeling close to tears. I'd love to say I snapped myself out of it. I'd love to say that prayer and positive thinking is what did it. But I broke down and asked my therapist for anti-depressants. Since my breakdown two years ago, I had been on a variety of anti-anxiety and anti-depressant drugs but was weaned off of them in the spring shortly after my illness began. In retrospect, it probably was not the best timing to come off of them. But I was holding my own until a few weeks ago. The great thing about the medication I'm on now is that it begins to work almost immediately. I've only been on the stuff for two days and I can already feel my spirits lifting.

And they lifted enough for me to begin painting again. I probably should have gone back to the Zippo Challenge but I decided to do something harder. I went for The 10 minute challenge. 10 minutes is not a long time especially when you're caught up in painting. And I knew that it would not be long enough for me to complete anything I'd be happy with. I pulled a lemon out of my fridge, I figured it would be the simplest object, and then modified the time allotment.

The top three versions were done in 20 minutes. It was immediately clear to me that 20 minutes was too long. I felt as if I was able to more leisurely futz with things and make minor corrections. Even though I knew I had extended the time limit too much, I completed the other two anyway. I do feel that I improved what I was able to fit into those 20 minutes.

For the bottom row I decided to shave off 5 minutes from the time allotment. Now, I felt like I was racing the clock. I was surprised how fast those 15 minutes flew by in my first attempt. I felt like I was in an episode of Iron Chef. I was more prepared for my second attempt and managed to fit more in. But, again, the time beeped there were still things unfinished. The last attempt I got too comfortable. I felt like I had the time management down but I actually didn't. I think the bottom middle is the best effort.

I plan on doing more of these so that I can get it down into the 10 minutes. All in all I found this to be an excellent exercise in simplification. I am always bogged down in the details. A great learning experience!

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