Tag Archives: thirty-in-thirty 2013

Thirty-in-Thirty: Day Twenty Two

Rattled Birch ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow - 15 x15 - Pastel & Pencil on Paper

Rattled Birch ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow – 16″ x 16″, Pastel & Pencil on Paper

One of the many things that thirty-in-thirty accomplishes for me is that it forces me to stop seeking perfection in my work. When I’m focused on doing —the process of painting and drawing— and not on expectations, I lose myself. Letting go of my ego —pre-conceived ideas and anticipated outcome— and returning to a sense of joy is the most important part of this exercise. I rediscover why I paint: I paint because it feels good.

Rattled Birch ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow

Rattled Birch ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow – 16″ x 16″, Pastel & Pencil on Paper

It’s surprising to me, that this rigorous work schedule and focused discipline can bring freedom and happiness —but in my experience, this is absolutely true. The less I think about going into the studio —torturing myself with self criticisms, worrying about whether or not my work is good, or if I am growing as an artist— the happier I am to go into the studio and just work. Just work. Don’t over-think, Michaela. Just work. Let your mind go and the rest will follow. And that is exactly what happens. I just begin to work each day and eventually, even on the days when my mind is a bit noisy, I find my zone —my flow— and suddenly I am filled with happiness. The result of this crazy, daily exercise is that I force myself to paint for the sake of painting itself; to just do it. And lo and behold, all of the obstacles fall away, and I find that work feels like play again.

How awesome is that?

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Thirty-in-Thirty: Day Ten . . .

Where the Wind Took Them, I ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow

Where the Wind Took Them ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow – 17″ x 14″,  Pastel, Charcoal & Pencil on Paper

Electricity. Light. A good night’s sleep. Work is going much easier today . . .

Wind and water are constantly moving things around in the natural world. I notice this more in winter. Perhaps it’s the snow-white canvas? I also notice the tracks of animals and fallen objects, like feathers.

I move things around when I work; sometimes for convenience and sometimes for a change in perspective. In the end, I usually find myself back at the beginning.

day ten

I think that I spun this piece around four times in total. I needed to position myself and the paper in different angles to capture the frozen motion I observed when I stumbled upon this group of seed pods in ice-glazed meltwater.

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Thirty-in-Thirty, Day Eight: Winter Pool V

day eight ⓒ 2013 michaela harlowWinter Pool V ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow – 17″ x 14″ – Pastel & Pencil on Paper

The past twenty four hours have been particularly busy, and I got a bit of a late start in the studio today. I have a few garden design consultations going on —clients preparing for spring projects— which will occupy a few hours each morning for the next week or so. I did find time (barely) for a late afternoon flight above the valley yesterday.

Today’s piece was inspired by another walk in the hemlock forest. Warmer days have opened frozen pools and the slightest breeze ripples sunlit meltwater. Mesmerizing patterns form in the bright light.

Meanwhile, inside the studio, it looks pretty much like a typical January work week …

materialsThe worktable, filled with pastels, pencils, tape and sticky notes

photo 5 The drafting table has morphed into a storage spot for my stack of new work

work Older oil paintings —now dry— are being cleaned, labeled, boxed and stored

brushesThis old apothecary chest serves as a storage unit for tools, brushes, tubes of paint and clean rags. I also like to keep a few favorite rocks, sticks and other found objects to look at and play with.

Day Eight - Thirty-in-Thirty ⓒ 2013 michaela harlow Winter Pool V ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow – 17″ x 14″ – Pastel & Pencil on Paper

I’m snapping these photos on the fly, as I finish my work day. So, if the paintings look a little wavy, it’s because the paper is almost always still damp or even wet in spots (it’s fixative). Once the work is dry, I add it to the stack, separating layers with tissue. A bit of weight on top of the stack flattens the paper back out.

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Thirty-in-Thirty, Day Seven: Winter Pool IV

Thirty in Thirty Day Seven ⓒ 2013 michaela harlowWinter Pool IV ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow – 17″ x 14″ – Pastel & Pencil on Paper

Deep in the Winter Forest . . .

 Beyond the stands of beech, a forest of hemlock lines the western edge of my ridge line. It’s a dark and moody place, where winter is deepest. On windy days, this spot is also most protected. This is where the owls haunt, hawks shadow, deer bed, fox lurk, porcupine shelter and squirrels play. I love this place.
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Within the hemlock wood, water pools in dips between dark stone ledges, and bright moss shimmers in low sunlight. Looking down, I find time standing still; days and weeks frozen between sheets of ice . . .
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Day Seven of Thirty-in-Thirty ⓒ 2013 michaela harlowWinter Pool, IV ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow – 17″ x 14″ – Pastel & Pencil on Paper

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