“Kelly, we would love another one of your paintings. Would you be interested in painting the Tetons for us?”… “Oh boy, the Tetons…wow, they’re SO big, and SO amazing, and they have been painted by some of the greatest artists out there. I struggle with a flat landspace… and they are the Tetons!! They are daunting, but I would love to try it” I replied. That was over a year ago.
Life was in a state of instability. Big changes, not pleasant for the most part. I was emptying my studio, selling what I had left, and heading back to the east coast to reconnect with family and clients. It was scary, but I wanted to paint, and I wanted more opportunity. I listened to any teacher willing to share thoughts – and I sought out a few of them too. I was invited to a workshop in Taos, NM with Sherri McGraw and David Leffel. Everything in me wanted to go – but money was already tight, it was only two weeks away, and it was over a thousand dollars. I sold my 1970’s camper “Ethel” to cover the tuition, and with my Teton deposit, booked a plane ticket. I reinvested my assets. It was an amazing workshop, and worth every penny, though the focus was figurative -not landscapes.
My moving date crept up fast, and I left Teton Valley, Idaho in June of 2011 without painting the Tetons. Months went by. I got settled, got the kids in school, set up a new studio, and did FingerSmears as they came up. I began to teach beginning painting classes, and enter local shows. I made a few new friends and produced my first solo show. Life was moving forward. Still, in my studio stood that image of the Tetons, begging me to paint them. In my mind, stood the fear that I could not do them justice.
My emails assured them that I had not forgotten. Their emails assured me that they were not at all worried.
Once I began, I was consumed. Working to combine my old style with new lessons was challenging, but fun. Days flew by repeating the same rhythmic gesture of dragging paint over a textured surface, watching as the under-painting came forward, and fell back. Over and over, closing my eyes to remember the beauty of the Tetons burned into my brain; the strength and the bigness that my reference material could not catch. They are mighty.
Thank you Mark and Jayne, for the challenge. Thank you for pushing me out of my comfort zone. Thank you for having faith when I moved across the country with your deposit long spent and a box of paints. Cheers.