Painting the Color Spectrum

Gardening is in my blood. My dad was born and raised on a farm and my 99 year old maternal grandmother still maintains a garden of green beans, kale, tomatos, eggplant and peppers. I have always enjoyed the outdoors. That love also started as soon as I could walk. As a child, my happy place was sitting in the limbs of my favorite plum tree in our backyard. I could literally spend hours in that tree.

Gardening lets me feel satisfaction of accomplishment and I don’t stress the results like I sometimes do when I’m making art. Garden has been an outlet for much of my stifled creative energy over the years.

Maybe gardening is my escape from creative block or maybe I just love getting my hands in the dirt. I have been known to take fresh blooms on a road trip as to not miss their season. I have also jumped out of bed excitedly at 3 am to care for my summer seedlings growing under lights on cold winter mornings.  The term crazy plant lady may have been used. 

Earlier this year when I found myself with a chance to have a regular painting practice for the first time in 18 years. I literally did not know what to do with myself! Even with all the evidence about what makes my heart sing, it took me most of the year to find my creative flow.

Once again, I am enjoying the process.

One of my favorite quotes is by Elizabeth Gilbert:

“Creativity itself does not care at all about results- the only thing it craves is  THE PROCESS. Learn to love the process and let whatever happens next happen, without fussing too much about it. Work like a monk or a mule, or some other representative for diligence. Love the work. Destiny will do what it wants with you, regardless.”

With a collection of art supplies that had been collecting dust I just needed to MAKE! I thought of the thing that had kept me sane all those years: gardening. 

In an effort to legitimize my decision to paint flowers I started researching Georgia O’Keffe. What reading about her did for me was introduce me to Arthur Dow and other color theorists. I read once that his instruction to her was to paint the colors of the rainbow individually. I decided it would be a great lesson to try.

I touched every color in my box (or more literally every color box in my studio) and it felt glorious. The paintings were a practice in draftsmanship, color mixing and redeveloping best practices like taking advantage of soft edges and which brush to use for different effects. I remembered lessons from my painting instructor 20 years earlier and with fresh eyes and mind and I began to understand why he had us do “terrible” projects like monochrome paintings and painting paper bags in order to understand wrinkles.

I am excited to introduce a new series of floral paintings, one in each color of the visible spectrum.

Melissa Muehleisen, 2018

Older Post Newer Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published