Archive for June, 2020

Saved for a rainy day

Monday, June 15th, 2020

The idea of “saving for a rainy day” has become something of a joke because we often don’t recognize when the “rainy day” arrives, so we hesitate to touch what we’ve saved, even then.

"This Too Shall Pass," by Charlotte Mertz (11"x15" watercolor, #200404w)

“This Too Shall Pass,” by Charlotte Mertz (11″x15″ watercolor, #200404w)

What I’ve “saved for a rainy day” is photographs, reference material to use when I might no longer be able to travel as freely as when I was young.

Well guess what. That rainy day is here! The time has come when most of us have found ourselves looking at the same scenery day after day.  For many, our world shrank down to our immediate environs. Travel has been limited, and the comfort of human interaction has been discouraged.

But I still have those photographs, as well as images sent by others, and the personal memories of a lifetime to broaden my view, to remind me that there are other things, other places, other people in this world beyond our immediate surroundings and concerns. They carry me outside the present insular world of limited space into the universality of human experience.

It’s been euphemistically raining cats and dogs for months now. Buckets; a deluge, a gully-washer. Longer even than the 40 days and 40 nights of Noah’s proverbial (and likewise unprecedented) voyage. It’s a prime time to sift through my savings of photographs and a lifetime of experiences and remember that everyone everywhere has been affected. Although a clearer sky may be on my horizon, others may still be feeling the brunt of the storm.

Can I use my art to provide an emotional stabilizer to lift spirits and remind us all that “this too shall pass”? I have to try.  What can I do to uplift others? Paint, teach, encourage,…?

Is it enough? Maybe not, but it’s a start. It’s something. And it may mean more to someone else than I realize at the time. Even though it doesn’t feel to me like enough, it may mean everything to them.  So I paint.  And teach.  And offer encouragement when I can.

 

A breath of plein air

Monday, June 1st, 2020

A few weeks ago, for the first time in several months, I met with some friends for a plein air outing. We gathered in the combined shade of a private park filled with live oaks and shared our news and goals for current artistic endeavors.  One friend worked with colored and watercolor pencils, another with graphite, and a third focused on color-matching exercises, while I did a watercolor sketch of one of the scenic views before us.

"Oak Park Pond," by Charlotte Mertz (5"x7" watercolor, #200506w)

“Oak Park Pond,” by Charlotte Mertz
(5″x7″ watercolor, #200506w)

Despite maintaining acceptable social distances from one another, it was a welcome change from the creative isolation we had all been feeling.

On our second outing, for the first time in many months, I played with water-miscible oils to brush up in that area. (I find I have a lot of brushing up to do in that realm, having fallen quite out of practice since agreeing not to use oils in my home studio. My husband’s extreme sensitivity to solvents means that I need to use oils en plein air or not at all; until recently it’s been not at all. But I’m hoping that that, by using the water-miscible oils, that can change this summer.)

Therefore, for several reasons, our plein air group members all look forward to continuing to meet on a regular basis.  

I hope you have all been able to start enjoying some opportunities for getting out and sharing some real togetherness, too, since shelter-in-place restrictions have started to loosen up.

What new undertakings have you been exploring while sheltering in place?  What are you looking forward to doing (or have started doing) again, that you haven’t been able to do for a while?  I’d love to hear from you.