Painting While on a Rollercoaster

At the end of November, within six hours time, we canceled our plans that would have taken us through April of 2024 and instead, planned the next four months in the Detroit area. My husband, Rich, has a lingering heart issue that we decided should be addressed sooner than later. So, now, as I write this, I am no longer living in an RV in the warm temperatures of the south, but instead, I am in the second of our three Airbnbs we will live in through March.

Life doesn’t need to be linear, but you do need to have some pivoting skills!

In the last month, I created three paintings, all very different from each other. My journey of abstract art and discovery continues as I learn and evolve my process and my style.

equal confusion by victoria r wolf 11-19-23 blog

Equal Confusion

I painted this one in the Art Shack right before we decided to head to Michigan in late November. I was starting to play with stencils and loved that process immensely. 

In my learning process, I have studied other artists’ abstract works, looking for inspiration, guidance, and new techniques. As a self-taught artist, this is my process. I study, mull, overthink, and then set off on my own path.

With Equal Confusion, I continued my “ordered chaos” style, focusing mostly on the palette knife and a limited palette. I was excited to try out my new stencils and landed on one with lines. I only used two of the lines and realized it was an equal sign, and really liked how they made a strong statement. I do love unintended discoveries! 

Then I thought, well, why not use more stencils, so I added the small circles. The larger circles, which I love and incorporated in an earlier painting (I Am Stronger Than My Fears), were created with the bottom of a disposable stainless steel cup and were quite fun to add. And, just because, I used a plastic, patterned, booze sleeve to create more interesting shapes and patterns.

Overall, I love the flow of this painting, the bright magenta areas, and, of course, the equal signs. I see chaos and confusion, and essentially, it is a glimpse into my brain at any given moment. I strive for more calm, but I am not sure my brain is ready to go down that path.

Ripped Open by Victoria R Wolf 12-17-23 blog

Ripped Open

Nearly three weeks later, I had the opportunity to paint again. We had been in Michigan for over two weeks and in our second of three Airbnbs. We were fairly settled in our new “home,” and our son, Dawson, was due to arrive in a few days.

Many times, my vision for a painting, as I am standing in front of the blank canvas, does not survive the actual painting process. And with this piece, that was surely the case. 

And that’s not a bad thing.

I find myself drawn to abstract art for that reason. You don’t know what you will create until you are done. It’s an amazing form of self-expression and one of the best ways I have found to express who I am, what I believe, and most importantly, what I feel.

Obviously, I was feeling, well, Ripped Open.

Well, how could I not? So much change in such a short time. 

I could have named this painting ketchup and mustard, but then added the teal, and that color really does not represent any condiment, so there was that.

I ordered modeling paste a few weeks prior and was itching to try it out. Why not on this painting, I asked myself. So I did, and you’ll see the texture in the “rip.” Or, if you turn it vertically, you’ll see the texture in the “carrot.”

A palette knife, brush, stencil, and more were my tools of choice, and when I was done, I was surprised at the outcome. Letting myself “just paint” and “go with the flow of creativity” is challenging, emotionally, for me. I was exhausted when I was done, and the mental rollercoaster I rode for two days after finishing the painting was not unexpected. There were many recent events to process, and my brain processed like there was no tomorrow. The overriding topic of that process was shame, and that’s a story for another blog.

I love that I experimented and did not censor myself, but at the same time, this painting scares me in a way I cannot explain. And, yet, another reason, I love creating art.

Muted Directions by Victoria R Wolf 12-21-23 blog

Muted Directions

I finished this painting the day before I planned to put away my easel and supplies to prepare for Dawson’s week-long visit. Looking at it afterward, and, now, I understand I was in a very different headspace when I created it.

Part of my painting process involves a mental analysis of the painting after it is complete. I sit in front of each painting, examining the thoughts and emotions the finished pieces bring up for me. It may seem like a crazy process, but it’s mine, and it serves me, at least for now. 

I am not just creating art. I am exploring, learning, and evolving. And for me, that happens only with introspection.

I started Muted Directions by adding modeling paste to the canvas and waiting until the next day for it to dry. I hate waiting, but I planned this so it was not as painful.

The color palette I used is much more subdued than my previous paintings. I did not question why I chose such a palette while I was painting and just went in the direction my mind and body took me. I used the palette knife, stencils, brushes, and markers until I felt I had no more to add.

When I started my contemplation process, I was confused about what was presented on the easel before me. It’s so muted, with so many elements. Confusion, yet somewhat ordered, again. I made peace with my place in time and set the painting aside. It will resonate with someone, I told myself.

On Christmas Eve, Rich’s mom (along with my parents) came over to celebrate. The painting was leaning up against a wall near the front door, and Rich’s mom immediately took a closer look at it. I think it resonated with her, and amazingly, it matched the colors in her house. I didn’t say anything then, but I knew it belonged to her. She does not know it is hers yet, but she will soon.

The New Year’s weekend is upon me, and my main focus is on painting. I have three days to paint my heart out if I so choose. I’ve had the urge to paint larger for a while now, but living in an RV did not allow that. Yesterday, I purchased a 24×36 canvas and can’t wait to see what I will create!


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