Watercolor: First Sip (& seasonal cycles in creativity)

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First Sip, 5 x 8.75 watercolor (sold)

Its tea-drinking season, even over here in sunny coastal California.  Fall is a nostalgic time bracket for me – loaded with reflection of the-year-so-far, anniversaries of still-heart-prickley loss & grief (read this poignant and thought-compelling essay about letting go of objects connected to lost loved-ones), and acutely visual reminders of time passing.  Nightfall comes sooner, but time slows in winter, despite the shorter days, and the sunlight is particularly crisp & so bright, you can’t help but squint.  My urge to paint is always strong in the Fall. (Read this short essay by Austin Kleon about the seasons of creativity.) Certain plants flower here only in November, and long afternoon shadows broadcast their secret Fall-only hues. The sunsets in the Pacific often feature 100 shades of pink, orange and robin’s egg blue. Fall is a good time to be an artist, in the studio, with a pot of tea.

Sunset through a window at the Harbor in Ventura, California

I grew up in Connecticut, and I’ve seen images on social media of the low temperatures & early snowfall there this year, so I’m even more appreciative of the climate where I live. The evenings here are light-the-fireplace & wear-a-sweater cool, but I walked the hills in my neighborhood in a t-shirt this morning, watching hummingbirds dart around bright yellow hibiscus flowers and butterflies perched on pink Plumeria blossoms, adjusting the sails of their colorful wings. Walking in nature on a sunny day is such a potent antidote to the acidic temperment of this election season here in the United States. Climbing hills and sweating towards the reward of an ocean view reminds me to focus and feed on more pleasant things.

Pink & Orange sun setting into the Pacific at the beach in Ventura, California

I’m so very grateful to live in an environment that reminds me to enjoy the simple act of breathing deeply, and looking around to find beauty to rest my eyes on before starting a busy day in the studio. In order to squeeze the most out of this fertile season in my studio, I’m scheduling weekdays in blocks of time. Up at 5:30; coffee and writing (blog posts & emails) exercise at 8, shower & work on art till 1:00 (listening to a book or podcasts), break for lunch, and then run errands, or plow through paperwork (show applications, scheduled social media posts, etc.), boxing & shipping, matting & framing, add listings in Etsy & Artfinder, etc. till it’s time to make dinner.  What does your creative workday look like? Do you work better in a structured day, or do you flutter around, all tap-dancing & willy-nilly?

Looking towards the coast; the silhouette of Santa Cruz Island in the gray Pacific, under a lacy canopy of squinty gold, lavender, robin’s egg blue and sea-foam white.

Thanks to everyone who sent emails and left comments about my idea for a video course on best studio practices. I took notes on your messages and comments, and I’m open to suggestions for anything else you think might be helpful as a video course. How to show at art festivals? How to open an Etsy Shop? How to start an Art Blog? How to talk about your work at an art exhibit? How to package and ship your work? Leave your ideas in the comments, and know that I’m totally grateful that you’ve taken the time to share your wishes with me.

Painting a watercolor portrait on a plane somewhere over the midwest of the U.S.

I haven’t painted a thing in weeks.  I find myself out of alignment with the Earth’s time of bounty.  But I take comfort in knowing that as we move from these long summer days spent away from the studio soaking up light for later, and now readying our family for a return to routine, that a shift is coming in my creative practice.  I trust that there is a creative springtime around the corner, full of studio days and palette knives, and sowing seeds of creativity in the weeks and months to come. ~Emily Gaines Demsky

In the winter, I’m much more apt to paint for myself – rather than for a specific show, and there’s an incredible freedom in that. Just like learning to write by writing only for yourself in a journal, making art you don’t plan on showing has a no-pressure freedom in it, and that works your artistic practice muscles without the “make-it-good” squeeze. Something show-worthy might come out of the time spent making, but that’s not the plan, or even the hope. The plan is simply to make something. If you haven’t made any art for awhile, I encourage you to break out your art supplies, and schedule a few hours in this lovely Fall season, and paint or draw or sculpt something just for you, just for the sake of practice. It might be just what your art-engine needs to get fired up for a season-long stretch of extraordinary creative output.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you in the next post!


P.S. You can subscribe to this blog here, and you’re welcome to also subscribe to my studio newsletter here.

Art Quote
If you put in the time to develop the skills, eventually you will burrow so deep inside yourself with your art that you will tap into that same vein of blood that runs through each of us.

The key to good art is figuring out who you are.

Writing for yourself, then, becomes the best way to write something that can be enjoyed by everyone.
~James Altucher

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6 thoughts on “Watercolor: First Sip (& seasonal cycles in creativity)”

  1. Wow, you manage to pack a lot into one day! It sounds like a dream day, too (except the getting up at 5:30 AM part) I am definitely more artistically productive in the Fall and Winter months. Spring and Summer I want to be outside!

    I’d like to add my vote for a How to Start An Etsy Shop video. I’ve been meaning/wanting/trying to for over two years now, but every step I take in the process seems to lead down a rabbit hole of other options. I find the Etsy forums helpful, but also overwhelming because while they may answer one question I had, they bring up a whole other set of questions, or choices I have to make about other things that I wasn’t even aware of until that moment. And then there’s all the fine print to read (I read somewhere that PayPal’s terms and conditions have more words than Hamlet, Shakespeare’s longest play.)

    I’m envious of your hummingbirds and butterflies so late into the season. Enjoy!

    1. Hi Gabrielle – I don’t love the up-at-5:30 part either, but it really makes a difference in the day’s productivity. Thanks for the tips on video tutorials. I think an Etsy Shop primer would be good, since a little guidance goes a long way. And I’ve used PayPal for about a dozen years, si I can speak about that as well. 🙂

  2. I read your post religiously, and love your idea of starting a series of posts about how to get what you’ve made out into the world! To lots of us that does not come naturally, but as with most things, it can be learned. Your input would be so greatly appreciated!

    1. Hi there my friend. Have I said lately how your paintings are just fabulous? I shared one on fb and tried to tag you. Just lovely! I have added your note to the list, and I would love to help you get your incredible work out into the world!

  3. Love the painting and the blog. My days depend on lists. I would easily dither without them, so I may read the essay later, because getting some sleep is on my list!

    Love your work.


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