Rhia while painting a sunset seascape with paddle surfing in Hawaii

Here Is How I Create Uplifting Artworks, Even If Everything Is Lost

A good question.

Sometimes the most challenging part is to find the right subject of my future uplifting artworks like paintings or drawings. I have lots of images in my thoughts. I could paint them all. Not possible. All at the same time is not working.

So which image from my mental pictures wins to be painted right now? Difficult to say.

Some images are persistent and seem to stick with me for a long time; however, I've never painted these. They are still in my mind and who knows if my next uplifting artworks will resemble these ideas. 

I do not always use mental pictures. I often use my own photographs. 

The story of lost photographs.

As I was fifty, I lost almost all my photographs! Sad story.

As an avid photographer, I often have taken images of things and not always of people. My partner at this time couldn't quite understand it.  

He would ask, "Why do you photograph this view here!" For me, it sounded like: "Why do you not photograph ME instead!?"

Of course, he didn't mean exactly this, but what he was saying wasn't that far away from it.  

Additionally to it, at this time to take pictures we needed film. After you used the film entirely, you would send it to a film developing company, and after a few days, you would hold hard copies of your photos in your hands. 

A long, long journey, isn't it? 

Moreover, my ex-partner was also concerned with wasting things. His thoughts were around wasting film for not needed stuff because who needs images of landscapes without people in them? Who needs images of animals? Who needs photos of a lovely flower or a great tree? He did not fully understand it. 

But for me photographing a glorious sunset was a dream come trough! And even a photograph of a snowy landscape or duck in a pond was all that I wanted. So, collecting images was essential to me.

And yet, I lost them all. I couldn't take all my photographs with me. It was 2004, and I left my house and my own company (I was 50 % co-owner with my ex-partner) without giving my new address to anybody except for my lawyers. 

I lost the house, my existence – the company - and almost everything I owned, included all my photographs.

Why did I do it? Short answer, I was – for almost 22 years - abused by my ex-partner. 

Eight years later, I received the photographic films back and had the opportunity to digitalise them, but haven't managed it. Life came again as a disruptive factor, and the opportunity is gone as the films are gone too. All of it has, for the second time, gone with the wind.

In the meantime, after 2004, I have collected a new library of, this time digital, photographs. Now I managed to take these always with me – as digital data does not take a lot of physical space – in my travels around many places and countries. 

So, because I still have a large, not well organised, collection of photos, though the best ones are gone, I still can use what I have, and it takes me sometimes two or three days to decide which photos are going to be reference images for my next painting or drawing. And because I am a realism artist I need a reference image to get things looking realistic. 

Would I paint or draw just from memory, I wouldn't be satisfied with my artworks, and I have to like these things I create to show them to you.  

After I decided which photographs are going to be relevant to my next artwork

I would fall in love with the planed image. As long as I love the next project things are going excellent and effortless.  

The first day, I would finish a somewhat detailed sketch with pencil on canvas or paper.

The second day I dedicate to the sky on the left, it will typically be the left upper corner. 

The sky takes me often two or three days. In case the painting is around 60 x 50 cm, it may take a week for the sky. It depends if I am painting lots of clouds. Cloudy skies usually are time takers and a few days spent on the sky is the norm. 

After I have done the sky, the background in a landscape follows. I use diffuse colours of light blue or green for the area behind the main object, or sometimes just whitish, soft forms and hues. One day for the background is just fine.

Next days I dedicate to the foreground and here depending on how detailed I want to paint it, I will spend around a week or two on it.

I have to say that smaller paintings and drawings, like 20 x 30 cm, will be finished in a week of work, additionally to these 2-3 days of deciding which subject is my next painting. :-) 

Knowing this, you may also understand my prices… Visit my feature blog on this issue.