What's the Wisp?!

7 Jan 2015

Elton, 11 x 14, mixed media on gesso board, 2011.
Elton, 11 x 14, mixed media on gesso board, 2011.
Yesterday was an interesting day for me. I thought I was near finished with a painting I had been working on for over three months, but when I sent it over to my agent in New York, who I call my third set of eyes, (hubby Matthew is my second) he called me rather than send a quick email like usual. What I was left with made my head spin. He said, "It needs to be like a wisp...in the creation as well as in the final viewing. You have struggled on this painting and it shows."

That stung a little. He also reminded me that I do fine art painting because I love it. He also said that the final set of eyes judging any of my painting work needs to be mine.

In this particular painting, I was working from photo reference, as I have often done to translate photo to painting, and I worked in "spots" rather than viewing the work and painting it as a "whole." This is a trap that I have fallen into before, and I was usually on my own to figure it out! I am thankful to now have a community of artists and friends to help me to see when my vision becomes impaired or simply fogged. Seeing my work through their eyes is a gift.

I have a number of deadlines looming and commissions due as well as new projects that I am excited about starting. The beginning of a piece is always my favorite part, because the possibilities are endless! And there is a very busy personal life that needs attention also. So this morning I am reflecting about being present in each moment as I paint and I'm looking forward to starting a new painting and letting this one go, if just for now. The option to return to it later will be there, so I can just relax.

Wellspring, 24 x 36, watercolor painting, 2006.
Wellspring, 24 x 36,
watercolor painting, 2006.
But what can I do to assure that "the wisp" happens?

I probably can't do anything specifically. I need to allow the peace, mental space, and inspiration to come so that it has the room to be in my presence and to breathe. I can't corner it or hunt it down. I have to trust that the muse that has visited and romanced me for over 25 years will be back.

Only now I have a name for her. Wisp Maker! :)


Shen loves making the flat surface of a painting or drawing come to life. A professional artist and entrepreneur for more than 25 years, she lives to discover new techniques, mix media, and make difficult concepts simple! You will often find her painting live at events of all kinds to "wow" her audience. Her work has been collected by celebrities, corporations, and galleries spanning the globe. She is also an art instructor and keynote speaker, speaking to artists about how to market themselves in new, fun, and creative ways. Shen lives in Vail, Colorado, with her husband and three beautiful daughters. More of Shen's work may be viewed at her website.



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