Saturday, December 4, 2010

Down-Time Begins

Although the sun is shining and the sky is bright blue, the wind is brisk, the temperature, 30 degrees.  Not a day for Painting Outside!  I don’t even have the heart to spend an hour sketching from the relative warmth of my car.  

I think I have to say that Painting Outside! is officially over for the season.  Let Down-time begin....

Many years ago, I worked in a Print Shop.  We were more than busy – pressured, stressed – for most of the year – except for immediately after Christmas until mid-February, which was known in that shop as ‘down-time’.  That’s when we spent most of our time cleaning, tidying, filing, checking inventory, making repairs, stream-lining systems....  I used to think of Fishermen, spending the good weather out at sea catching fish, hunkering down close to home in the off-season, repairing nets, equipment, boats –  dreaming of and preparing for Fishing Season and Spring through long winter nights and short days....  

I knew in my heart that down-time was coming 2 weeks ago when we walked to the top of the hill at the farm because it was too cold and windy to sit and paint.  My down-time plan is similar to how I imagine the fishermen.  I’m mending my metaphoric nets with some reading & painting experiments I’d like to do and some writing.  I have ideas to work on for next season.  I have technique to hone and sharpen/soften.  

At the moment we’re in the Holiday Season which to me is the down-est time of the year.  I’m working on honing technique by doing very small paintings from photos and sketches from the farm.  I want to learn my subject and experiment with ideas.  These paintings are very small, 3.5x5.5, which means I can do that many more experiments, create that many more to give as Christmas Gifts, gather that much more experience between hand and eye as I keep my interest alive in my overall project, which is to make sense of my commitment to do much of my work at the farm next to where I lived as a child – until mid-August ‘11.  

I’m ‘setting up camp’ in my kitchen for the winter.  I’ve put plastic film over the windows and outside door.  I’ve installed weather-stripping around the door and it’s now quite draft-free in here.  I’m keeping the kitchen warm with an oil-filled electric radiator.  My kitchen table is now my center and all my supplies are here on the table or nearby.  I’m cleaning and tidying, preparing me and my house for winter.  I’m beginning to enjoy down-time and thinking about Christmas projects and projects for ‘after the Holidays’.  I have much to occupy my mind and heart.