What Next?

"Roots" by Deborah Elmquist 18x24

“Roots” by Deborah Elmquist 18×24

Every part of life can be looked at as being a stage.  From the beginning of life to death and all the activities that we squeeze in between, we are at some predictable stage of the process of living.  And just like life,  painting has its own stages. And just like a young child who knows only the stage he’s in and has not a clue about what stages lie ahead until he arrives that is, so it is with  being a painter and learning to paint and all that comes along the way and after.


The novice painter may set as his goal the ability to transcribe in paint what is in front of him. The novice truly believes at the time that if he can do that he will be happy.  And for many painters, that’s as far as they get.  For others, however, they quickly learn that just painting the image “as is” does not feed their expressive souls.  They begin to search for ways to paint “better.”


For those who will paint better, this stage is both painful and exhilarating at the same time.  Here’s where, if we are willing to search deep within ourselves and search for information on the masters of the past, we can grow into a richer life as painters; a life that will sustain us for a lifetime.


"Sew Many Memories" by Deborah Elmquist 18x24

“Sew Many Memories” by Deborah Elmquist 18×24

My journey into this stage began with looking for a theme.  I quickly realized, however, that a theme wasn’t anything more than just painting things, lots  of  the same things, but in different ways.  Looking for what brought me joy or bliss was the key to this next stage.  Bliss came from two things, fabrics and light.  For me the two are really related, especially with  white heirloom textiles that had beautiful lace patterns and hand work.  I became fascinated with the idea of light as it “rolled” across the “landscape” of the fabrics; it’s physical properties and spiritual connotations.  I am  intrigued by how the light behaves in the folds of the terrain of the fabric.  Light is universal to all of us.  The great masters of the past that I gravitate to used the element of light so well that it transformed their images into something almost spiritual.  This is superbly shown in Sorrolla’s “Mending the Sails” and “After the Bath”.  Both are light infused of something heavenly.


Is this stage the last stage?  I think not.  I won’t know until I’m ready to progress to the next level, the next stage.  As Wayne Thiebaudd stated, “Great art is made up of three worlds. The world of Self, Reality, and Art. We artists are not communicating if our work is only one of the three. If too much about self, art is a one-sided conversation, if too much realism it becomes a mere visual recording. And if too much about art, then only artists are talking to each other.”  These wise words make me know that my journey is far from over; I have not yet “arrived.”  In the spirit of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Robert Frost combined, “It’s not the destination, but the journey and that makes all the difference.”

Upcoming OPA Events

OPA 2018 National Exhibition OPA 2018 National Exhibition
Oil Painters of America’s Twenty-seventh Annual National Exhibition will be held at the Steamboat Art Museum (SAM), Steamboat Springs, Colorado, from June 1 through September 3, 2018. Learn More!
OPA 2016 Summer Online Showcase OPA 2018 Spring Online Showcase
The Spring 2018 Online Showcase is from March 1 - May 15, 2018 and will be open to Associate members only. Learn More!
OPA 2018 Salon Show OPA 2018 Salon Show
OPA's 2018 Salon Show Juried Exhibition is being hosted by Crooked Tree Arts Center, located in Traverse City, Michigan, from June 22 through September 1, 2018. Learn More!