Birth of Buddha- Painting #119
Oil on board 8 x 8 in. 12/31/2016
Work In Progress
This is a commission by an old friend of mine who lost three large prints of the Buddha and wanted to replace them with three paintings by me of the Buddha. I was given free reign over the design and chose to start with his birth.
Truth is, I'd already gotten the idea of painting a birth out of a woman's side but could not remember where that idea had come from. A little search found that it was Buddha I had wanted to paint to begin with. Serendipity. That happened a LOT during this project.
I knew it would be a big undertaking for me since I'm not the fastest painter in the West, but that's kind of why I wanted to do it. Also, to try on the technique of alla prima. Which translates to 'first stroke', meaning a wet on wet approach. I was used to letting things dry and layering paint on top. I did a bit of both throughout the project. Feeling out each day afresh.
The hours spent painting flew by and I was increasingly AWARE of time like I never had been before. I was getting less and less sleep with more and more things to do. If I needed to work I would have to schedule my painting sessions accordingly. Up at 6 am, go to work, home at 6 pm, take a nap, paint into the night and post bleary eyed sometimes at 3 am (or later). Back up at 6 am to do it all over again. And I don't even want to talk about Fashion Week!
Like the time, I left Clarkson Square after a long day’s work and went home and set my clock for 6 PM instead of 6 AM, and never got up till my friend Dave texted me "GET UP!!", and he was just joking thinking I was on the train. He HAD woken me up! That was the night I painted C Clamp. Which I can tell you was #47 and was painted on February 18th. Ha!
Weekends were rough I'm not gonna lie. But all the while I felt like I was crashing through lessons! About colors I'd never really used before, different surfaces to try and depict, and most importantly I think, when to stop. That was a biggie.
What I didn't expect was the level of community that wrapped around me. I can't tell you how wonderful that was to feel. I've never had such an immediate response to my work before. Posting pics of my efforts each day for social accountability to Facebook and Instagram gave a window to my studio and made me feel as if I had you guys over my shoulder at the end of each day cheering me on. It seemed everyone was on board and soon people starting thinking of what they would love to see me paint or how they could help. I was brought flowers, tools, had Masonite boards made and coated for me and once I was given a penny. THAT one was a tearjerker and I'm forever grateful to Cher for the opportunity and the magnificent story.
As I rolled into a groove and got used to the rhythm of it, everything started to gel. There was less and less separation between paint and life. What I was painting was what was going on in my life that day or how I was feeling. So much so, it grew into a visual diary. Painting and listening to Black Star, David Bowie's last album was an altogether blessing. Right up there with painting a Joshua Light Show for Prince while listening to Purple Rain on repeat.
As in any good story everything wasn't all bread and roses. I'd gotten hit with a depression that left my hands feeling numb. Nothing would come out of them. The depression was then exacerbated by my feelings of failure over the project. Every day I didn't produce a painting I started to sink even more. Social media helped there as well and you all helped to ease the pain of it and I'm grateful for that. I was never able to get back into daily painting. Couldn't keep up with the lack of sleep and I guess the depression lingered for longer than I realized.
Having said all that, it was worth every long night I spent painting till morning and every bleary-eyed workday realizing I had to do it all over again. In the end, I kind of missed that 3am feeling of trying to post to the website, send an email to subscribers, post to Facebook and Instagram (social accountability!) BEFORE going to bed and stopping for the night. There was a lot more to it than just the painting part.
Then I was blessed with sales. (!) It was wonderful how you guys wanted a part of the project and to own a piece of my work/life. I had to put together quite a few packages so I could send them to you all and I loved giving them special touches. They were a lot of fun to make. I still have a few commissions that were started in 2016 that I will honor and consider to be a part of the project as a whole -- beginning with the "Birth of Buddha" that began this post.
Overall, I'd call it a success even if I didn't get to 365. It was more about the journey than the destination, anyway. It's been a pleasure having you follow along.
See you in the new year! Knives sharpened...