About Painting

No Where Near Being a Master

Every time I paint, I paint a masterpiece. It’s true. I am completely in love with most of my paintings as I’m painting one and right after I finish it. Then, with few exceptions, I’m not in love with it any more. Sometimes I’m on to the next one, sometimes not. 

Maybe the reason I’m not a “master” is because I never got serious about painting. The pity there is that I’m not good at a lot of things and I approach the surface not knowing what’s going to happen. Maybe no artist knows what’s going to happen. 

There’s a wildlife artist whose work I like very much, Greg Beecham. His work is amazing. He offers lessons — I’d like to learn some things about his technique. I’m pretty sure he uses glazes, something I’d like to try, but haven’t figured out. I watched a segment of one of his lessons and what intrigued me wasn’t him, what he was saying, or how he was painting, but how he’d literally drawn everything onto the painting surface somehow. It resembled the surface of a paint-by-number kit from back in the day. 

When I approach the surface, it’s with colored pencils. Depending on the painting I’m imagining, I might have a small version in water color like this one for a BIG painting I started two years ago and that now overwhelms me. Usually I just block in main areas of color and that’s it for “drawing.” 

Sometimes I draw elements of the painting and then take my painting from the drawing, but I don’t normally draw much on the painting surface. In my mind there’s a difference between a drawing and a painting. I think most artists have their ‘approach.” 

I drew this painting on an envelope at a conference. There are a lot of strange things in this painting. First, I painted it in California but it is a painting of the San Luis Valley down to the contour line of the San Juans as you see them from the 160 between Monte Vista and Alamosa, pure accident. Second, it was inspired by the stranger than fiction tale of having written about my own family in Savior without knowing it at the time. When I did genealogical research later and discovered that, I realized that all I’m ever going to find as a writer is something about myself and the entire planet is an immense graveyard of bones and stories. 

I integrated a quotation from Goethe as the bottom strata of the land where “I” am digging. It says: “How all in a single whole doth weave, one in the other works and lives.” This painting hangs in my living room along with another that is more mysterious, even to me. 

The World is Out There

I didn’t fully understand this painting until I’d lived here for a year. I painted it in California few years before I moved. It began as a painting for my stepson and his wife, a street scene of New York I started in oils and realized it would be better as a watercolor. Quite a distance from one to the other…

My paintings — for me — fall into two categories. Personal paintings and landscapes. Only one landscape has crossed the line a little bit. 

I don’t have — for myself — an identity as an artist. It would take more painting for me to figure that out. Mostly I experiment and play. 

In school, I got encouragement from some teachers and outright discouragement from others. Over the course of my life, what this gave me was freedom. I didn’t even try to make a living as an artist. I didn’t believe I could, I understood the competition and the difficulty, and art went into the “garage,” the “shed,” and now the back room. It’s good that it did. Most of us are not going to be “great artists.” I’ve had some work hang in juried shows and sold most of my bigger paintings which is good because they take up space, but I think the best I can do is enjoy painting. 

Published by Martha Kennedy

Martha Kennedy's most recent work -- As a Baby Duck Listens to Thunder -- tells about her experiences as a Foreign Expert in English in the People's Republic of China in 1982/83. It's a love story to China, to teaching and to adventure. She has published four works of historical fiction. Her first novel, Martin of Gfenn, was awarded the Editor’s Choice by the Historical Novel Society Indie Review, the BRAG Medallion from IndieBRAG in 2015, and, in 2017, was named to the shortlist​ for the Chaucer Award from Chanticleer Reviews. Her other novels, Savior, The Brothers Path, and The Price form a loose series, looking at the experiences of the same family, Savior in the 13th century during the Crusades, The Brothers Path looks at the experiences of six brothers in the 16th during the Protestant Reformation and The Price brings the family to America in 1743. All three novels of the trilogy are IndieBRAG Honorees. Kennedy has also published a memoir entitled My Everest which is a compilation of stories about her years of trail hiking in the "wilderness" around San Diego with her dogs. My Everest is also an IndieBRAG honoree. Kennedy has also published many short-stories and articles in a variety of publications from the Denver Post to the Business Communications Quarterly. For many years she lived in the San Diego area. She now lives in Colorado, in Monte Vista, a small town in the San Luis Valley that she thinks might be Heaven.

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