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 for my future artworks inspiring happiness, optimism and hope. 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 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, before digital ‘revolution’, 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 preferred NOT to waste 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 magnificent tree? He did not fully understand it. 

But for me, photographing a glorious sunset was a dream come through! 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 enterprise (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 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 could digitalise them, but haven't managed it. Life came again as a disruptive factor, and I lost the opportunity as I lost the films again.

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 was carrying 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 I lost the best ones, I still can use what I have, and I take sometimes two or three days deciding 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. 

Could I paint or draw just from memory? Such works wouldn’t be satisfying for me because I have to like these things I create and I wouldn’t like to show them to you either.  

After deciding which photograph to use for my next artwork:

I would fall in love with the planned 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 a pencil on canvas or paper.

The second day I dedicate to the sky on the left. I will typically use 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 are 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, I will finish in a week of work, additional 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.