It is not an exaggeration when I say I have been painting, painting and painting for the last few months. I have been painting inside and outside. I have had paint all over myself, paint cans, brushes, the living room floor, on old wooden panels, concrete blocks and on canvas. I have painted so much I can’t use my painting apron and some brushes anymore.
My latest and biggest project has been to paint the full set for the Wonderland musical production for Beach Nuts Theater. And finally, now that the production is underway, I can share the real work with you here.
The set consists of 22 4 foot x 10 foot panels and about 6-7 weeks worth of solid outdoor work in buggy, muggy and rainy Costa Rica. I loved every minute of it and mostly I have loved the kids reaction to them. Those kids put so much energy and love into this epically entertaining production, they deserve every amount of joy I can give them back.
“I always finish a painting in a day – max 2 days” she said. And I thought Wow.
“I can work on a painting for up to 6 months.” was my response.
We both looked at each other in awe.
The creative process takes many forms and there is no one right way. But lately, I have been exploring my limits and then pushing them.
What if I’m abusing the seemingly Unlimited and Abundant? In this case – Time? So I experimented.
I sat down and painted these three 12″ x 16″ watercolors with these constraint; paint for 2 hours max and when the time is done, you are done, no fixing, no double backing, no thinking about it – You Are Done.
Here is what I learned:
Constraints paradoxically Facilitate Freedom. Without a time constraint, there was actually too much to consider and too much time to think about it. I moved forward from stroke to stroke without doubt because there was not time for doubt!
Constraints provide Focus. With a constraint, I knew I had to finish and with that tension came precision in my artistic decision making.
Constraints encourage Experimentation. Knowing I had to finish on time, made me more likely to try some things I wouldn’t have before and to follow my instincts as I painted.
Breaking Down Limits yields an Abundance of Creative Energy. Since trying this experiment, my work has exploded and creative blocks have disappeared. I’ve grown more appreciative of my technical capacity and believe in my ability to do this work. And I more implicitly trust my artistic instincts.
I’ve come to regard the practice of painting with constraints like writing freely in a journal. Set a timer, choose the colors and just paint, see what happens, follow your instincts, Let Go and the world opens up.
One week left in Seattle and then we hop on the plane for a new adventure in Costa Rica. Mostly, packing has consisted of purging, the getting rid of and lightening, but I’m willing to carry a few items for sentimental reasons. I will paint in Costa Rica. I’m packing all my paints but I can’t realistically take all my paintings. I’ve settled on five and as usual they tell a collective story not only of my painting, but the reasons why we have made this decision to pick it all up and try something new for our family.
A Beautiful Mind (c) Marika Reinke 2015
Unusual Weather (c) Marika Reinke 2015 Watercolor
Life Begins at Sea (c) Marika Reinke 2015
Daire’s Dragon (c) Marika Reinke 2015 Watercolor
A Wedding Vow After 12 Years (c) Marika Reinke Sept 2014 Watercolor
I’ll start at the beginning.
It has now been 13 years married and a partnership 15 years old. But the sentiment of A Wedding Vow After 12 Years so perfectly describes the complexity of our marriage. And believe me, this big move, the huge purging of a very settled life, the intentionally unsettling and the transition time is creating a few more explosions, merging and reconstituting. We move in hopes of realizing some dreams but also in reconnecting over a slower paced life too. This big change is also a renewal of our vows and the painting is a worthy reminder.
Continuing with the theme of bringing our family closer together, Daire’s Very Not Perfect and Wonderfully Uncompromising Dragon is dedicated to my son and his initial rendering, but also an illustration of the stubborn insistence on believing in magic and that you can have just about everything, even if it contradicts itself. Because we believe this, we move to Costa Rica just to see what happens.
Life Begins at Sea is a painting based on my daughter’s drawing and commitment to our family. But this also illustrates our commitment to sustainability and the natural world, not to mention we will be living in an area saturated with many nesting sea turtles. The school the kids will be going to, La Paz Community School, is also committed to the legacy of sustainability and is a strong motivation for sending them there. This one must come.
Unusual Weather is one of my personal favorites. It is a story of climate change. As rapidly as the world is changing around us, I feel a deep need to go see it before it all slips away and reforms itself. This is why now is the time; not retirement, not when the kids are out of the house. Now. Those years in the future are filled with doubt and likely unlike anything it is now when these other milestones hit. I want my kids to have memories of the way the world is now, not an urban life or in the shadow of collective political panic of climate disruption. Now we go.
A Beautiful Mind is dedicated to my son again, who we recently found out is dyslexic (and as a result we found out my husband is too). This realization has reconnected me to my passion for education, specifically for dyslexics and educational justice. I have been fascinated by the study this summer and will spend the next couple years helping my son literally re-wire his brain to become as fluent a reader as he can be. It represents another renewed commitment to the best I can give my family, not to mention I think the painting rocks.
They are now rolled up and waiting for their next adventures, just like us.
There is no hope in understanding a marriage. It is bound by love and faith, not analysis. There is love in one another and more importantly love in what they create together. This home, this family, this feeling, this conversation, this intimacy, this strength, the gift giving, forgiveness and courage they form together and this friendship only exists in this marriage. It is incomprehensible… and a wondrous fact.
Are you looking for inspiration? A little down to earth reflection and renewal? Want to stay current on what’s new and what to expect from Marika? My emails are food for thought packaged with color, soul and humor.
This commission is taking me a long time to finish. I make three decisions and then I’m exhausted, and the paint needs to dry. I walk away.
As I work, I think about my client. She has an irreversible and deadly disease. This painting is for her life partner as a parting gift, in memory of their life together. Their best memories are in the water, the mantas are metaphors and symbols.
Thrilling, intimate, scary, flowing, connecting …. fill in the rest here.
We all know life is finite. But it is another thing to know death is looming. It is another thing to be touched intimately by it and be asked to partake in the goodbyes.
I love her (my client). Every decision is a worth a million more than the thought that goes into it. I want to have all the time in the world to finish this painting. I want anything to slow down goodbyes. I never want this painting done so she can never give it to him. So she will never die.
So I slow down. And reflect on color and life.
The Birth story: color and life
Of the images she gave me, there were sea turtles, mantas, sea life, water, underwater corral. Of the words she gave me, mantas, moving together, light and colors, love and the stories she has shared with me about them.
This image burned for me. This is sketched and painted on 9 x 12″.
Which eventually led to a rough idea and agreement.
I changed the mantas as little as I worked on the larger image which is about 26″ x 26″. They are purple; regal and spiritual. They come together in a more fluid shape. They merge so one is undecipherable from the other. The energize each other at the connection point.
And then I add background color. I also altered the color scheme a little, adding deeper blues and simplifying. The challenge is to keep the eye on the mantas while creating motion, energy, support and a story with color. A vivid purple draws the eye in just the right places, there should be color and contrast where meaning occurs.
The aquamarine frames the mantas. Dark colors keep the eye inward. The yellow draws the eyes to it and the mantas. Purple and yellow are complimentary colors, they glow next to each other.
Now I’m happy with the basic composition which is different than the first sketch. I took what worked from it and added and subtracted. Then, I return to the blues and yellows, softening, shading, darkening and adding depth.
This week, I came back to the mantas with more layers of colors and shading. The rewards for patience pay back huge in vibrancy and motion. The mantas are deeper purple now, the result is higher contrast which builds more energy and richness to the painting.
What is left?
I need to keep working the shading in the two mantas, their upper bodies are still a bit ill-defined and the background colors still need a few more layers for richness and just the right frame.
She loves it. Believe me, she would tell me if she didn’t. I’m relieved and joyful. This project aches, but I’m so pleased that this painting is doing what she wants and needs it to do.
How to describe the climbers’ magic? To persevere, to embrace challenge, to un-puzzle rock, to conquer fear and reach uncatchable vistas and beauty. Adventurers who explore their inner-life landscape with earth’s stone-maps. An ultimate union.
Watercolor 7″ x 12″
This painting will be available to buy at Art in the Park in South Lake Union May 7th, 2015 from 11-6 with a frame. $100
9′ x 12″ prints will be available. I will be able to customize the background and highlight with gold, silver and iridescent colors for $45
The sea is a literary being. It’s waves finger the sand with hieroglyphs and symbols leaving a puzzle of stories. We have slight moments to code-cipher that which we can’t know with any sense but the heart.
A tree and climber tend to each other while conjuring private magic.
One offers height, an ever changing maze, adventure, and endless possibility of another world. The other lays hope before her, curiosity and this secret; to understand what lays in her own hands. With each strong grasp and successful push she learns she is capable, again, again, and more.
In a tree’s magic cradle.
Watercolor 24″ x 18″
Original Sold (Commission)
Customized Limited Edition Prints: $65
This was my first thought when my husband suggested this project. I’ve done the graphic design thing. I worked at a firm at one point. I’ve taught design and related software. I really respect graphic designers. It’s a lot of work, talent, persistence, thought, completely artistic but highly client focused and much more technical and straight edged than I’d like my next career to be. I’m not a white space person, I struggle with white space. I’m walking away from a computer screen in favor of a paint brush for a reason.
But all those “I’m nots” is more a defense to keep me in one place. And they are full of assumptions. I’m not in a position to be closed-minded. Plus I generally don’t respect a closed mind.
So I looked into it.
This work in progress is for my husband’s climbing team t-shirt. He sold hiring me to his team, and his coach liked my work. They understand they are getting a paintbrush.
I originally sketched this out vertically. I started drawing with one idea and ended with another. This is my concept sketch.
The team liked it. But we all agree horizontal for a t-shirt is better. My husband doesn’t like pink (typical). They all prefer red, blue and green. The name of the team will be under it. I thought I would use a program for it, but maybe I’ll paint it now. I’m warming to the completely handmade idea.
I don’t usually sketch as heavily under my painting but I am real sensitive to getting those climbers right in relationship to the rocks. We are a climbing family, my husband and I have been climbing for over a dozen years and the kids with us. It won’t be right if they aren’t right.
It’s a small project, but fun to capture something we are all so dedicated to. And perhaps the fear of not getting it right is really why my initial reaction was full of “I’m Nots”.