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  • Writer's pictureLisa DuBois

A Step Back to Go Forward

This is a bit longer than my usual posts, with a lot more photos. I am taking a step back as I reflect on 2023, and preparing to go forward in 2024...

My artwork has been a bit sporadic and chaotic this year. I wrestled with the questions of what do I want to do and why do I want to do it. The "why" is very important to me. There is a time and place for fun creations, but for me, there must be purpose in every piece of artwork I create. As 2023 draws to a close, it is all beginning to make sense.

Although I love painting people, this year I decided to try a few different subjects.

I painted flowers.

I painted still life.

I painted landscapes.

Autumn landscape of the Rocky Mountains with a stand of golden Aspens.
A very rough landscape study in acrylic

I also decided to explore different mediums.

I painted oils.

I painted pastels.

I even played with mosaic.

I painted watercolor.

Watercolor palette with a painting of Rainier cherries.
This little watercolor kit is perfect for travel

I have the least experience in watercolor, but it seemed to be a logical choice this year, as we traveled to Kansas several times. Watercolor supplies travel well. The Kansas trips broke up my studio rhythm, but they enriched my soul. And my belly.

Two restaurants shown: KC Craft Ramen and Smoketown BBQ
Hangin with my peeps at a couple of fave KC restaurants: KC Craft Ramen and Smoketown BBQ.

Our roots (that is, Brad & me) are in Kansas. Each trip takes us a step back. A step back to our roots, our family. A step back to enjoy the sounds of summer cicadas as we mourned and laughed together at a funeral for a dear uncle of Brad (Brad's family puts the "fun" in funeral!).

Family and hearse near gravesite in Holton cemetery.
96-yr old Auntie E flew in from Phoenix. She was going to be at this funeral in Holton if it killed her. She's still going strong now at 97.

A step back to a slower pace as I took my parents and my brother on errands. A step back as we moved my parents across town, and sifted through old photos and a wedding album.

Just a few more things... moving day for my parents.

Mom and Dad are now happily settled into their new apartment at Mission Square. This month, they celebrate 63 years of marriage.

Base of a tree trunk with a pile of sticks and a sign that says, "Dog library. Take a stick, leave a stick".
Take a stick, leave a stick. Dog library in Manhattan, KS

Kansas has a slower pace where I find joy in walking the neighborhood of old houses when we stay at Mama Jam's house near the K-State campus.

Red maples line a brick street in Baldwin City Kansas.
We took a detour through Baldwin City to see the red maple-lined brick streets near my alma mater.

Even as my artwork felt sporadic and disjointed this year, our trips to Kansas somehow grounded me.

Now we are home for a 2-month stretch. As I settled back into the Colorado rhythm, I felt a longing to return to the drawing board. Literally.

I felt a longing to return to portraiture, but wanted to improve my skills in capturing the likeness of my subject. I have heard it said that anyone can learn how to shade, and render an eye or even an entire face. But it can take a lifetime to capture a person's likeness. I know methods that help in the technicality of copying someone's features. But I long for more than that. The human face is a miraculous work of art, and I long to better capture - through careful observance - the essence of each person that I draw or paint. I enrolled in a portrait drawing class on #Sktchy. My pencil drawings below are not fully rendered, but I think they are a good start. They are from lessons in the class taught by Justin Maas. He has drawn hundreds of thousands of portraits and is a well-known portrait artist of celebrities.

Pencil portrait of a black woman with corn rows, adjacent to the photo reference of the woman.
Photo reference by #Sktchy in a portrait course taught by Justin Maas.

There's something about you that makes you you. It's not just your features, but it's where body, soul and Spirit meet. There's something about the eyes of these portraits that gives me pause, to ask, "What is she thinking? What is her story?" Everyone has a story.

3/4 view portrait in pencil next to the photo reference from Sktchy.
This 3/4 portrait of a woman with interesting animé-like features. Photo reference by #Sktchy.

As the year draws to a close, we wonder what's in store in 2024. Who knows? I don't, but I know the One Who does. I find comfort in God's strength and purpose. I know He lives, and He loves you deeply.

In an experiment with watercolor on Yupo paper, I saw an image of Jesus. So I drew him in ink.

When I ask Him about my next step, He whispers "keep drawing". Follow me on my journey as I take one step back, in fellowship with my Lord, and I work on my freehand drawing skills of one of the most beautiful things in the world: the human face.

Dinner out in KC with my sweet brother Phillip and his friend Anthony.

You are one of a kind. You are a masterpiece.

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