Expectations + 3 New Paintings

Miracle Manor Welcome ~ 8” x 10” ~ © Linda Hough

When is a painting done? Painters are notorious for not being able to let go of a painting, even working on them just prior to the doors opening for an exhibition.

In the course of this week, I’ve gone through a gamut of emotions. I’ve watched myself go through the ritual of doing everything else before sitting down to paint. I almost talked myself into stopping because 1) this is no longer my style, 2) definitely not my ‘theme’ or even 3) the ultimate question: do I REALLY want to be a painter?

Eclipse at Miracle Manor ~ 8” x 10” ~ © Linda Hough

All devious thoughts, questions and devices of the subconscious. Finally, I saw that these three little studies are my entrance back into the world of painting.

When I took away the expectation that they be great paintings, perfect visions of what I wanted to create, I began to relax and enjoy the process. I opened to the joy I find in layering color and watching the glow begin to appear. I let them be what they wanted to be.

I began looking forward to ‘seeing’ what I would see in the morning after an evening of painting. They always looked better with some time and distance. The critical voices at bay. A new perspective revealed.

Poolside ~ 8” x 10” ~ © Linda Hough

Then the magic moment occurs, when the paintings come alive. They begin to speak and you begin to listen. Ah yes, darker over here. A touch of yellow over there. Another layer of blue for the sky. The give-and-take is satisfying, rewarding and takes the pressure off of me. The paintings know what they want to be.

Are these paintings done? No. There remain the many thin layers of color that make them sing; that further defines the edges, the shadows and lights. And as I progress down this road, I expect to be delighted watching them unfold before my very eyes. : )

Painting the Future…

Blooming Ocotillo ~ Oil on Canvas 20 x 24 ~ Private Collection

Standing at the kitchen sink earlier this week, staring out the window, I was reminded of a huge A-HA I had several months ago. The desert is full of hundreds of varieties of cacti. One of my favorites is the ocotillo. The blooms are vibrant red and top the end of each spine with glee. I painted this ocotillo last fall from a photo taken by a friend. I love the sense of space, the blue desert sky and the blooms reaching towards the sun.

Back to staring out the kitchen window, I was enjoying a daydream when my eyes focused in on the ocotillo that is directly in front of the window. Recognition occurred like a slap in the face. It was the exact same image I had painted months prior to my move.

Walking over to the back window, I was again struck by the similarity of this view with the painting below from the same series.

Mountain Majesty ~ Oil on Panel ~ 8″ x 10″ ~ Price Available Upon Request

Most everywhere you look in Palm Springs, you get a view of the mountain but with buildings. When I was taking photographs, I was looking for an unobstructed view. Obviously, with painting, you can just edit out, which I did. But up where I am NOW, there are unobstructed views. And this is basically what I see out my window.

I do a lot of reading about goals, desires and having the life you want. There is a reason people do vision boards. When I returned from France, my desire for wide open space, big desert views and beauty was primary. I kept that in the forefront of my mind.

When I found myself in this new space, completely surprised by the unexpected opportunity, I had so much gratitude for the unknown forces that conspired to get me here. It took some time before I made the connection but on some level, it feels like I painted my desire, my next step, into being.

For me, this is the ultimate in life: using the creative process to live more fully into who you really are.

Why Not Have A Little Fun…

In my search for a theme, I’ve been torn between very expressive larger canvases and more precise much smaller panels. So there is a feeling of really wanting to cut loose and go all abstract. And then the feeling of wanting a sense of place, a feeling of comfort and home and lovingly depicting that.

As much as I’d wanted to just let whatever come out be okay, ALL my beliefs about ART, all that I learned in school and traditional gallery consensus came flying up in my face.

Not to mention all my beliefs about artists and success.

Why even bother? I asked myself. I’d be do much better putting my time and attention into something. More. Worth. While.

This was pretty much why I stopped painting before. These taunts and terrorizing thoughts relentlessly spinning around in my head creating the intended result: I don’t paint.

My subconscious has again done a fantastic job and I stay safe for another day.

Except I’m not really safe. When you are not using your gifts and talents, not contributing to the world in general, you are not really in a very safe space. It’s more like a self-imposed prison. Which is kinda how I feel right now.

So I decided to switch it up a bit and have a little fun.

In the July issue of Palm Springs Life Magazine, there is an article on Charles Phoenix or, as he is called, Retro Daddy . He is obsessed with midcentury Americana. In the article, there were several 1950’s photos of Palm Springs. The feeling was nostalgic and a great big dose of FUN!

Suddenly, the spark was ignited. I’d been wanting to do these small paintings of old Palm Springs since I’d returned. They elicit such a warm comfy feeling for me. Riding around town on our bikes, up and down the streets with houses that have come to be known as prime examples of midcentury Modern.

So I began this underpainting. Just roughing in the big shapes. Drawing lightly and loosely. Not too concerned with precision, just with general composition, light and color. It already feels good.

Stay tuned till next week to see how it evolves.

The Series Begins…

As soon as I returned to Palm Springs, an old desire surfaced: to paint the desert hotels and houses that were etched in my mind growing up. At the time, I didn’t realize that they were part of the mid-century modernism design movement. To me, they were just the buildings I grew up around.

So now that I got that big anger expressed, and some big mountain energy going, I’m settling in to work on this series.

I took a number of photographs of Miracle Manor Retreat, a renovated mid-century modern boutique spa in Desert Hot Springs. Key to the work would be the neon sign that graces the top of the entrance. How to depict that accurately? After trying on my own to replicate the sign, I resorted to technology.

Using a process called image transfer, I was able to get the look I was after. Then, I began blocking in the larger shapes. Next, I’ll refine the details and add ‘the glow’. My new desert series is in progress!

Seeing Red

The Anger Canvas unleashed a whole lotta emotion that had been pent up inside for WAY too long. Each time my brush touched the canvas, I let more and more go. It felt so good that I went on to another canvas. Rather than the extreme emotion of the first, this seemed to be more a dance of anger. There was a rhythm and balance to it all. Just getting it out was the important thing. Not worrying about anything but pure uncensored expression.

Whew. Huge deep breathe. NOW I can paint. The release triggered a breakthrough whereupon I am feeling the floodgates opening. I am struck by the similarity in gesture this painting has with my weavings. There is a constant thread running through our lives if we but stop to observe.

Here is an under-painting of my beloved mountain. Nothing like a solid foundational landmass speaking of strength and beauty to get me started again. The landscape in the south of France is decidedly feminine. That’s mostly why I felt so at home there. And though my mountain here is rugged, I feel her emanating a strong feminine energy as well.

This weekend in the high desert was the ShaktiFest: A Celebration of the Divine Mother. Though I was not able to go, I pursued the website with interest. Another flood of emotion washed through me: memories of my time in India where the divine feminine has been honored and respected for centuries. And suddenly it all came together for me. Again I ask, how did I stray so far away from my path? It was there all along, the underlying currents that make up my life. And I chose to ignore them…until now.

In this painting done many years ago, I capture the notion of surrender. And that is where I am again. Surrendering to what is before me, what is here now, what I’ve come here to be and do.

I surrender to truth, beauty, freedom and love. I surrender to it all so that I may naturally and completely embrace my own divine life.