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Under Pressure

Some work better under pressure. I needed to light a match under my floundering butt. The inertia of my physical body was wearing on my rumbling soul. I had to get out into the thick of it and shock myself into forward motion. I committed to paint 4 consecutive 30-minute portraits at a fundraiser for one of my favorite local non-profits. “Yes, it will be just like Italy; forced to perform, or suffer the undying consequences of your own lameness Kelly” I told myself. “I did it there, I can do it here. Yes, just commit.” I did. “Count me in Tim” I said. Then I hung up the phone and it washed over me. “Holy smokes – Italy was different – I was in constant practice, and I didn’t really know any of them – I was leaving soon – and they weren’t paying for it. Maybe this is a bad idea – but I already said yes – just do it you pansy,” the battle ensued. I needed practice, and fast. My son’s class of 10 fit the bill. My confidence reinstated.

I showed up early on event day and set up my easel, the chair, the lights… “I look like I know what I’m doing” I said to myself, followed by “man, I hope this works out.” I’m a pretty forward person. My general appearance is one of a semi-confident woman who goes after what she wants – I think. But when people started to arrive I literally felt my insides shiver – I had to talk myself out of a hovering breakdown, like an introvert on the first day of debate class. I was terrified. No joke.
The first high-bidder sat in my chair. I forced a stroke, and as a matter of survival, cocooned myself in my own bubble and got down to business. While the first of four was no masterpiece, it was good enough to lift the hypothetical bag off my head and keep going. The second, third, and fourth showed consecutive improvement. People seemed pleased, and I went home happy.

“Hmmmm” I thought, “if they were willing to pay for my chunky impressionistic style, perhaps I can find more ‘models’ willing to sit for it”. I wrote a short press release laying out my ‘no obligation’ sitting arrangement and managed to fill my month with fascinating faces interested in the experience. Admittedly, some ‘studies’ have run past my 30 minute estimate, and at least two of them were horrific failures (that will be re-done), but this past week has been the most invigorating practice I’ve ever had in my little Driggs, Idaho studio. I’m grateful.

While I would love to find a mentor of sorts who could speed up this learning process, I guess there is no better way to develop my own style – and pay for the paint. Together, we will see where it goes.


7 Responses to Under Pressure

Kelly, those are all very awesome! mm

Posted by Mary Mullaney · via · 135 months ago

Thanks Mary! I’ve been to busy to ski, but I brought my stuff to the studio today thinking maybe we could sneak out this afternoon – but the phone just rang and I have a two o’clock. -perhaps we should shoot for a cocktail instead. Cheers.

Posted by kelly sullivan · via · 135 months ago

You’ve got a great style…….
These give me the impression that you were having FUN – as it should be!

Posted by Ginnynorthcott · via · 135 months ago

Yes, I am having fun!! Thanks Ginny.

Posted by kelly sullivan · via · 135 months ago

The fact that you can take “nothing” out of the AIR and turn it into a likeness, even one you’re not satisfied with, is an unbelievable gift and work of art in, and of, itself!

Your “chunky” style of art shows even MORE talent to me because you can make big strokes on a canvass that turns into a compilation that actually resembles a PERSON!!

You’re a fabulous artist and I appreciate your gift…one which I do NOT possess in the least!


Posted by Kassie Cerami · via · 135 months ago

hey, great job!

Can you explain the “bidding” process? In other words, how did you get your “victims?” Can I see your press release?

Posted by mimi · via · 135 months ago

HI – just checking in on my “chunky impressionistic” friend! Talked to Carole and she said customers are coming and going there…….Yay. I really love your portrait style!

Posted by Ginnynorthcott · via · 135 months ago


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