“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” – Thomas Merton
The Best of Intentions: Oil Painting
Have you ever started a project and then life gets in the way? This seems to happen every time a fun project comes up, whether it’s a book I can’t wait to read (Kate Morton’s newest novel, The Clockmaker’s Daughter, just arrived!) or a painting I’d like to try to paint. For me, the painting above began as a blank 36″ x 24″ canvas I placed on my easel last November 2017. On Saturday, October 13, 2018, I finished the edges, signed it, and hung it to finish drying. I am relieved and thrilled to be able to move on!
My family and I visited Prague again this summer and it was just as beautiful as I remembered it. Our family lived just outside of Prague in a village called Horomerice from 2009 – 2013. One of my favorite things to do after dropping my boys off at school was to meander into the city with my camera in hand. The month of October seemed to be the month with the best photographs, maybe because the tourists had fled for the season or because the fog settles in some mornings. The history seeps from the crevices of the buildings and stones and seems to speak out loud.
This summer, the heat and the swarms of tourists stifled the feeling of the history I’d had in cooler months when we lived in Prague. The photograph I based the painting on was taken in the month of October from the lane descending from Prague Castle and Hradcany.
View over Prague from the Castle
In this view that I’ve painted, many stories can be told about the buildings and their significance over time. The main tower in St. Nicholas Church of Mala Strana (left in this painting) served as one of the main spying points for the Nazis and later the Communists during their occupation of Prague. The Powder Towers in the foreground and background held significance from the time King Charles IV (also Holy Roman Emperor , who lived 1316 – 1378) along with his Charles Bridge connecting Old Town across the river to the Prague Castle. The Old Town Hall Clock Tower holds the famed Astronomical Clock (more than 600 years old), but also was the site of the 1618 defenestration of Prague. White crosses mark the cobblestones below the windows. And center, Tyn Church stands at the centerpiece of Old Town Square. When we lived in Prague, the Pope came and visited Prague, which meant every surface was polished to a high gleam for his visit, especially at Tyn.
It took time for me to understand what to paint and how to paint it, including color values and shading — months, literally. I think the most important part is that I have finished it. Now, to enjoy it. 🙂
What types of projects have you started and then had trouble finishing? What helps you to get to the finish line?