Thinking on Hearts Lately

I create paintings of rainy days — essentially skies, land, and water scapes. If you can imagine a landscape, I can imagine that same landscape as a rainy vision on canvas.

This February, I was out for a walk in the woods nearby my studio. I usually walk on most days, but this one was pretty cold and I almost slipped on ice a handful of times. Normally when I’m out on my walk, that’s the time when I get to clear my head before tackling any of the day’s painting production, marketing tasks, communications, or any other general business obligations for the work day.

I’ve been thinking about the heart a lot lately. January 31st was National Inspire Your Heart with Art Day, and I’ve probably been rolling in that thought process ever since. As I was walking a tiny thought popped into my head — what if I used the simple form of a heart as the inspiration for a rainy-method painting? My mind brought up two very specific compositions, which I hastily sketched out when I returned home from my stroll.

The first was a simple pink heart, light pink, floating in a field of dark purple, lighter purple at the top of the background grading into a dark red-purple at the bottom. The second was almost the inverse of the first sketch, a deep purple colored heart floating in a realm of light pink descending into red, each heart with a slight shadow under the bottom point of its heart. Valentine’s Day was right around the corner, so I thought, why not have some fun trying something different?

I aimed to keep the shapes simple as I applied a plethora of very thick daubs of paint all over the canvases. Lately, Tuesdays and Thursdays I’ve assigned as my designated painting days. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I will start a rain painting. I don’t aim to “finish” a painting on either of these days, as my rain paint process dictates when a painting is “done” only after several days. I started the pink heart on Tuesday, the purple heart I started on Thursday.

I have been working on smaller canvases since restarting my art in January, after just about a year-long absence from the studio. In order to warm up to painting again, I’m choosing small canvases 8×10 and 12×16 inches to create and feel achievable without being overwhelming, and I’m gradually moving up into larger and larger canvases, until I get back to my “show pony” gallery exhibition size of 30×40 inches.

To say I was putting my heart into these two heart paintings would be a bit a little too literal, but it also wouldn’t be too far from the truth. After an intense couple of years in which my heart was broken or mourning from pain, grief and loss, just to paint something like a happy, healthy, brightly-colored heart was a measure of progress in itself. I was even worried that people might think my painting a heart would be too tacky, corny, or off-putting from my usual nature-inspired rainy landscapes.

I was pleasantly surprised by how well received these two little “heartspiration” paintings were by friends, family, and social followers of my artwork. When they were finished, the first painting was a prize for a fun giveaway, and the second went to a spontaneous decision to whomever had the best offer out of the first three to bid on it. I’ve never actually done that specifically with my paintings before, but it was a fun exercise in just letting go of my hearts and having some fun in connecting with people. The hearts were more popular than I had anticipated, because I had to evaluate them at first by timestamp because the offers came in at the same time!

In conclusion, this February has been a small exercise in putting my art “heart” back out into the world, to be open to new things, be vulnerable, be hopeful, and embrace light and the goodness of people.