Last fall I spent a week at Kripalu Center in the Massachusetts Berkshires, attending a retreat on facilitating transformational workshops, which is an interest of mine (check out my website, www.learningexperiential.com if you want to learn more). It was a great workshop — one of the best I’ve attended (which, if not the case, would have been both ironic and worrisome).
ANYWAY, the last time I was there (a couple of years ago), I painted the view from the coffeeshop and blogged about it (The Tale of Two Paintings). This time I sat at the same coffee shop table, looking out the window at the same beautiful fall colors.
As I took in the colors, I decided to try something I’ve never done before: a stained glass stylized painting.
I got the idea from a watercolor I recently saw of this stained glass window at the church I attend.
It was a beautiful painting, and I thought it would be fun to try my hand at it. I’ve been trying to do more abstract stuff, and this seemed like a good mix between abstract and realism. My other inspiration was the stained glass window above the altar at the same church. I look at it every Sunday and wonder at the design. I’m always struck by the artist’s use of color in conjunction with the lines. For example s/he doesn’t necessarily stick to the same color for a particular object (e.g. the purple line of glass running through the dove in the lower right corner). That takes guts!
So there I sat, with coffee in hand, painting kit nearby, the quiet of the early morning to accompany me, and the vista spread before me for inspiration. I did the drawing over the course of two days (about 20 minutes each day).
The second day I started to add some of the paint. When I returned home, I looked up pictures of stained glass windows to get some more ideas and inspiration. I needed inspiration, because I was nervous to add more paint, fearing I’d ruin it. This happens to me a lot. Am I the only one? I have numerous sketches that I’ve never painted out of fear. And of course, that’s the best way to shut down the creative spirit. Reckless abandon is what the paper and brush want.
Overall, I’m pleased with how it turned out:
I painted the hills primarily with hues of orange, yellow, and red, with some green and browns mixed in. I tried to make the distant hills slightly faded. For the water, I tried to show a little complexity by bringing in some green, echoing the green in the hills. The white clouds in the sky materialized as I was painting the blue. It just seemed “right” to leave those spaces white.
I’m wondering if there are too many different shades of color. It looks vibrant, but it also looks busy. I’m wondering what a more monochromatic approach would have looked like. And that’s the great thing about painting — you don’t have to wonder, you can just go do it! Of course, that’s easier said than done… that specter of fear rears its ugly head. This is where painting becomes a spiritual practice. We artists look that fear in the eye, give it a wink, and plunge forward. On a good day. 🙂