——-Posted by Alice Dustin————

Alice Dustin / Strawberries 5

I am continuing my strawberry pursuits and am by working with the same props as the spring progresses I am finding new challenges. The challenges are twofold: one is with my actual subject matter—and in particular that means the sunlight!—and the other is with my own brain and aesthetic sense: how to I keep my inspiration fresh? Regarding the first challenge: I have noticed that as we move towards summer, with the sun higher in the sky, my kitchen window gets a shorter and shorter margin of sunlight. Where the sun used to drench a deep swath across our kitchen counter, now I can only hope for a narrow band of light. (We live on the southern exposure in a twin house. This is not the optimal cool light of a northern exposure so favored by artists….) With such an obstacle course I have been forced to keep a careful reference regarding the direction of the light. I have also moved my props to our porch to maintain the same light!

As for the second (more aesthetic) challenge, there is the problem created (on purpose!) of returning to an inspiration over and over again. How can I keep my interest? I feel that by giving myself this dilemma I am enriching my work. I have to find a new or renewed interest in the same subject. This means that the creation of the whites, the grays, the textures, and the movement all have to shift. As my approach is always an alla prima one, I am not modifying what I have already put down, I must put down something new.

Alice Dustin/ Strawberries 6

This is perhaps the best way for me to get to that wonderful “zone” where much is automatic, I work without thinking because it is flowing easily, but I am captivated because I am making the decisions that truly interest me—how much warmer should this white be, how much can I suggest in the reflection, how can I get the balance between movement and stability by juggling darks, lights, and color? In fact, I find that I didn’t know what would interest me until I painted and saw what results I had. This white on white is a fascinating game and I am under its spell.

My aim is to make an even dozen of this series of small paintings. I think the strawberry season will oblige! I think I have “tamed” the sunlight issue, and I am confident that I can find a new edge to balance on in these explorations


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