Saturday, March 4, 2017

My Favorite Quote from Norman Rockwell - and Why I Paint Small Paintings

Yesterday, I posted a photo of an old oil painting of mine to my Instagram page (https://www.instagram.com/kimtestoneartist/) - a 12" x 24" piece I have hanging in my house that took me nearly three months to paint.

yankees steinbrenner stadium painting
"Watching the Team Practice," oil on panel, 12" x 24". This piece, which took me three months to paint, hangs in my studio space. Today, it's so different from how and what I paint, but it's a good reminder to me of how I got started and how I began to develop my voice as an artist.


The subject was totally different from what I paint now, as was the style, the size and the medium, since I paint exclusively in acrylic today. There are reasons for these changes, which mostly come down to me discovering gradually who I am as an artist, what my strengths are, and where I want to take my work. I also needed to paint faster, in order to both make a living and grow my skills as a painter.

I thought of my favorite quote from Norman Rockwell. I started using it on my business card recently, and it articulates perfectly one reason why I prefer to paint lots of small, fun paintings instead of just a few big ones:

"I'll never have enough time to paint all the pictures I'd like to." 

Life is short; make sure you make the time to do what you really want to do. If you are an artist, it can be tempting to try to go in many different directions with your work, experiment with new media or styles, or tackle epic projects that you will never finish. I've been there.

When I started painting in 2012, I decided to actually give away a lot of my older art supplies that I'd accumulated in the decade or so since college that were not oil or acrylic-related. That included giving all of my colored pencils and watercolors to my young nephew and nieces, and my manual non-digital Nikon camera to a friend. Clearing these excess supplies out of my studio was a bit cathartic and really helped me focus on just painting.

I gradually became a still life painter instead of a more documentary painter. In part, it was because it was easier for me to just gather up things around my house, and they fit much better onto the smaller-sized boards I was using. But then I realized something else. When I was younger, I participated in theater, and I wanted to be animator. Now, as a still life painter of quirky subjects, I can do both in a way! I can completely stage each piece, control the circumstances of the scene, make someone smile or giggle, and have fun with what I do.

Here's to fitting in as much as you can of the things you love in your life and figuring out just a bit about what makes you happiest.

And remember to follow me on Instagram to see what I paint each day before I post it anywhere else, like this super cute one I finished yesterday! Enjoy your weekend!

KIM

Acrylic painting of vintage music man toy
"Music Man," acrylic on aquabord, 8" x 8". This piece will be available for sale next week. Thanks!