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  • Writer's pictureMckenzie Kvalsten

The First Four Paintings

I started with that pile of lemon slices. I was impatient, excited, and frustrated. It always takes me a moment to get used to oils again, especially if I'm using the wet-on-wet technique that I lean on so heavily when painting from life. Those lemons have a time limit before they shrink up and begin to mold. I usually will paint as much as I can before having to stop and let the first layer of paint dry, then snap a photo of my still life to use as reference. That way I can still come back later to add details long after the lemons are past their prime. The second fruit painting I did was of lemons and limes, and since I had a photo of them, I was able to take my time blocking it out and not feel so rushed. I think it is very obvious which one I was more careful with when comparing the two fruit paintings.

When I finished the giant bear I felt a new sense of ability. It's strange how every blank canvas comes with a little thought of "Can I do this again? Do I still have it in me?" The giant bear was a giant 'yes' to this question and I decided to make the last of these four a 'fun' one. This little black bear (9"x12") was an experiment in layers. I love scribbling, scratching, sketching. It feels wild and natural and something that my inner critic can't keep up with. It's pure joy. My career-long desire has been to find a way to combine the freedom of mark making with the visual delight of composition. It's difficult for me! I can tell if something 'looks good' but I struggle to know the 'why' behind that. But with every painting I learn little more.

January was great! It helped me slow down a bit and remember that blocking it in well is really important and worth the time. I've already got my canvasses picked out for February so I'm off to get started on those right now!

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