Watercolor: Swallowtail (And thoughts on Artists & Loneliness)


Swallowtail 29 x 21 watercolor on paper

I’ve been working in shorter fits and starts this year, because, you know, life is full.  I’m relatively efficient at the transition between calamity of boisterous family time & social events, and the submarine dive into alone art-making in the studio, even if only for an hour. With family, a social life, new-projects and the business side of being an artist, studio time can get pretty squeezed if I’m not careful to prioritize it, and press it like quick-drying grout between the tiles of space on my calendar. I’m sure many of you reading this are experts at this shuffling.

Building transparent glazes of color in layers

When I first considered art full time, I worked in a non-artistic job, and only saw my artist friends working in public spaces; illustrators and designers in groups on projects at Disney, or painters at exhibits and art festivals chatting with a large audience of art lovers. What I didn’t see, or even consider, was the amount of quiet, focused, alone-time every artist needs (painter, writer, musician, etc.) to make great work.


Early washes of sheer pigment, one over the other

I love to be alone, sitting in my studio, bent over my work. I’m lucky to feel that way. There are plenty of artists who struggle with solo time.  Decades ago, at UMASS, friends in the studio arts program shared collaborative workspaces, and I remember their stress over never getting enough work done because they were hanging out together on thrift store couches, discussing the art they were going to make. This could be evidence of youth, but I have much older and wiser artist friends who still wrestle with showing up to chat when they meant to show up to work. Add to this discipline the acquired skill to dart back and forth: quiet working all week, and then talking to hundreds of people at an exhibit, and then back to quiet studio work. Efficient swimming between extreme variables like that is not easy for many artists.

First washes over a drawing done with watercolor pencil

Here is a good article on this subject, written by John P. Weiss for Fine Art Views. If You Want to be an Artist, Understand Loneliness. If you’ve ever dreamed about becoming a full time artist, being alone is something to consider in your check list of Appealing-versus-Awful columns. How do you handle the volley between weeks of solo working time, and weekends loaded with shows and art-loving audiences?  And if after weeks of hard work, exhibit sales are less than stellar… What then?

Late nights of sustained creation. Early morning epiphanies. Private frustrations and repetitive rituals. Long stretches of weekends and canvas time where you are deep in the thick of it. Navigating the whispers of inspiration, personal expression and tortured execution. This is a big part of what it means to be an artist. ~John P. Weiss


In the studio, waiting for finishing touches and a frame

Speaking of art-loving audiences, will you be in San Diego to attend the Artwalk this weekend? (<–Click the link for more info.) I’ll be painting on Beech Street in booth #171 Saturday and Sunday from 11:00am to 6:00pm. Weather predictions say sunshine and highs of 80 degrees, so wear sunscreen and a hat, and come say hello. I’d love to see you and catch up.

Have a great week in the meantime, and I’ll see you in the next post,


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Art Quote
Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.
~Mary Oliver


8 Responses to Watercolor: Swallowtail (And thoughts on Artists & Loneliness)

  1. Ema Kubo April 29, 2017 at 1:09 am #

    I understand that place between loving alone time and feeling very lonely when painting for long periods of time, thank you for sharing!

    • Belinda DelPesco May 2, 2017 at 8:25 pm #

      Hi Ema, Thanks for your kind note and understanding the experience of those two extremes. I hope your work flourishes as a result of that appreciation.

  2. Barbara Muir April 26, 2017 at 10:50 pm #

    Love this painting, and the ideas. I am very happy on my own. I can always listen to the radio, or a movie or TV show I’ve already seen, if I don’t want quiet, but I do like absolute quiet and working too.

    I love being with people at openings. It feels like relief to have the work up and done, and put on a party dress. The hard part for me is having to cut conversations short as more and more people appear. Love your thoughts and encouragement. And wow what a lovely painting!

    XOXOXOXOXO Barbara

  3. Marie April 24, 2017 at 2:34 pm #

    Love the painting! Your writing always speaks to me!

    • Belinda DelPesco April 24, 2017 at 2:38 pm #

      Hi Marie, Thanks for letting me know. I’m glad we’re kindred spirits, since the things I type are often notes to remind myself. 🙂

  4. Cristiane Marino April 24, 2017 at 1:15 pm #

    Wow! Belinda!
    I am astonished with your painting and the text.
    Thank you!

    • Belinda DelPesco April 24, 2017 at 2:37 pm #

      Thank YOU, Cristiane, for visiting and commenting! I really appreciate your encouragement!


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    […] things with your hands takes a lot of planning, focus, and alone-time. That’s good, but in order to share the work, or teach process, artisans traditionally had to […]

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