Metamorphosis / by Susie Lubell

Metamorphasis background
Metamorphosis on Day 1

There is much to say about the three days I just spent painting with Jesse Reno at An Artful Journey retreat in Los Gatos. While I did meet some lovely women and wonderful artists, some of whom I'd already come across on ETSY, my experience was not the life-changing, soul-sister bonding, love fest that I think many people experience. This was mainly because I have too much other stuff going on, I elected to stay at home rather than the dorm and unfortunately my daughter had a 105 fever last night which landed us in the ER until 2am (we got her fever down but she's not out of the woods).

That said, something in me cracked open in these three days and I discovered a new way to make art and love making art. We approached each painting in exactly the opposite manner that I usually go at it. I normally have in my head exactly what I want to paint and then I sketch it several times and then I trace it onto the final watercolor paper and outline it in black ink. Then I fill it with color. Except I can go for weeks and weeks with nothing I wan to paint.

With Jesse we painted only with our fingers for the entire first day. We created what he calls the grounds. A rich and layered background with no subject or expectation. Then we spent the next day reducing the chaos of the grounds into an image or a collection of images. In some cases, when nothing appeared, we went in and drew a figure or a posture on top of everything and blocked out the rest. This was HARD. In this particular piece I only really saw the bird head thing in the upper right corner, which was originally the lower right corner. So I made a big figure and blocked out the rest.

 Metamorphasis day 2
 Metamorphosis on day 2

We worked on three or four paintings at a time wiping excess paint from one piece onto another one. Finally we tied our pieces down with some detail elements. In some cases we wrecked half the painting before we could go back in to resurrect it some other form. No attachment.

We worked mainly on 18x24 Bristol paper but some folks brought in wood. I tried a piece on wood at the end and really liked the feel. My hands were covered in paint the entire time. And Jesse was a riot. I am exhausted now. And need to pack up the rest of the house before the painters arrive tomorrow morning. Hopefully my daughter will be well enough for the drive south to Grandma's. I'll share my other four paintings over the next few days.

Metamorphasis day3
Metamorphosis on day 3
"She surrendered to the magic."