Re-visiting: One Who Lives Alone (2016)


If you paint long enough, eventually you struggle enough, doubt enough, re-commit enough and bark about your lack of talent to your partner long enough… that you’ll actually paint something you are proud of.

This was painting #5, and I didn’t realize I was biting off way more than I could chew.  Still understanding very little of color mixing, theory, light and shadow, how to hold a brush, I decided I could paint something with a giant, detailed object in the foreground.  And make it a totem pole, because I have lots of experience with those.

I love being stupid.  You shoot so much higher than you should.
Painting of a totem pole in Alaska

What can I remember about this painting?  Well, here are my recollections…

I didn’t have a studio set up yet, so I painted in the corner of my tiny office at night, with every light on and all the lampshades pulled off.  In the daytime, I took it out to the backyard.  I was using student grade paints, and my starter acrylic brush set.

Painting of a totem pole in AlaskaAnd boy, did I struggle.  I painted that damn totem pole over and over again.  It was the first time I was trying to paint something presented at an angle.  I didn’t realize how tough that would be.

I didn’t realize how tough painting hands would be.

But I told myself, “If it takes me the rest of my life, I am not going to give up on this painting until I’m happy with it.”

I had to remind myself of that promise many times.

If I’d known as much then as I know now, I would have felt confident to step away from it for a day or so when I was feeling overwhelmed by the challenge.  But I didn’t do that because I was afraid I’d forget how I’d gotten it to where it was when I’d left it.


I still used paper plates for my paints because I was intimidated by a palette.

Somewhere along the way, I learned about complimentary colors.  You can see I’m throwing in some purple against the yellow to see what it would look like.

I love the three trees behind the house.  I don’t know how I did them.  I didn’t even know at the time how I did them.  But they looked good, so I told myself, “Okay don’t go anywhere near them with wet paint.”  I was so terrified I’d lose them.

See that teeny tiny dot of Cadmium Red in front of the house?  That’s a flower.  I was sure proud of that touch.  See, the painting is called “One Who Lives Alone.”  Are we talking about the resident?  The totem pole?  The flower?  Or do they all just reinforce the theme?  It works on so many levels, man!

May 28th!  My god, was I happy the day I took this photo.  Like a little kid watching mom and dad hang his finger painting up on the fridge, swelling with pride and accomplishment.

I still feel that way when I see this photo.  I am so happy I discovered painting, for the challenges it’s presented me, for the color it’s brought into my life, for the joy of a new creative outlet, for having something all my own, for getting to share it with others, for the painting friends it’s brought into my world.

Go paint!

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