Despite being swamped under a huge workload to meet a fast-approaching deadline, my mood hasn’t taken its normal swan dive into a stress-induced grump fest. And I couldn’t figure out why. I hadn’t jumped into a bottle of happy pills, I hadn’t won the lottery, and I haven’t suddenly lost that damn fifteen to twenty pounds that clings to me like a needy child.
But then, like the proverbial lightbulb, it dawned on me…Old Man Winter is hobbling his gnarly ass out of the picture which means it’s getting brighter out during the day. Yay!!!!
Don’t let me fool you, it’s dark by 6:00 p.m. and the skies are still that icky shade of Northwest Winter Gray (a new Crayon color, I do believe), but there is definitely more light out there compared a month ago. And my eyes are SO grateful.
Reaching for the Light…
We do get a fair number of sunny days here in Portland during the winter, but I live on what I like to call the “backside” of a hill (aka “the non-sunny northeast side that is about as well lit as someone’s backside”). My house also sits lower than the surrounding houses putting me in their very tall shadows. Thanks to the location of my home and the sun’s refusal to hoist itself much above the horizon line at my latitude, my house is very dark during the winter.
Because my art has a huge amount of detail, I need a lot of light to see what I’m doing without going cross-eyed. As I said, I didn’t win the lottery so I don’t have the spare cash needed to install sunlights in the ceiling or to rig up a series of daylight lamps. This means I’m stuck working by a small desk lamp with the brightest lightbulb I can stick in it without causing an electrical fire.
The lamp does it job. It casts plenty of light on my paper, but since it’s not natural light, by the end of several hours of working, my eyes are screaming at me to never look at anything ever again.
Improved Working Conditions
Besides a huge studio on a sunny slope in Umbria, my optimal workspace is at the kitchen table that sits right next to a huge west-facing window looking over the garden. I have tried to work at the table a few times over the winter, but found myself shuffling back into the studio after quickly realizing the stupid sunlight just isn’t strong enough yet.
This week, the sun has finally reached that point in the sky where, for a few hours anyway, it’s bright enough to light the table and allow me to work by 100% natural daylight. The difference is incredible! My eyes no longer hate me allowing me to sneak in an extra hour of art time each day, which means I just might make that deadline…maybe.
Tomorrow I have to head off to a Colored Pencil Society meeting during which I’ll supposedly be learning how to work on a new medium. Since I’ve been devoting so much time to simply completing work rather than experimenting with new styles, techniques, and media, I’m really looking forward to this chance to “play.” If all goes well, I’ll be sharing what I learned in next week’s F(ine) Art Friday.
See ya then!
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TAMMIE PAINTER IS THE AUTHOR OF THE TRIALS OF HERCULES: BOOK ONE OF THE OSTERIA CHRONICLES AND AN ARTIST WHO DEDICATES HERSELF TO THE TEDIUM OF CREATING IMAGES WITH COLORED PENCIL. YOU CAN FIND HER WORK AT TAMMIE PAINTER’S BOOKSTORE & GALLERY.