A Good Mess

Yesterday I shared a quick study on “soft edges” in oil painting. Today’s painting is a counterpart to that. It’s intended to be another quick study, this time on “hard edges.”

Here’s my painting:


It might not look too hard-edged, though. It might just look like a mess, but for me, it’s a good mess. I’m writing this post, you see, at 7:15 in the evening. That’s an unusual time for me to be in the art studio. Normally at this hour, my husband and I are tucked into bed, ready for a good night’s sleep.

We have a rather odd schedule, you see. Most days we get up around 3:00 AM. My husband usually leaves for work between 3:30 and 4:00 each morning. I spend a little time writing in my journal, he calls to let me know he’s arrived safely at work, and then I head to the studio for a morning of drawing, painting, blogging, and art journaling.

Today was a much different day, however. At about 1:45 AM this morning, my husband work me up telling me that he was in so much pain he couldn’t breathe. Not good. Especially not when his family has a history of cardiac trouble.

Long story short, we found ourselves at the emergency room by about 3:00 AM. His condition was concerning, but fortunately an EKG looked good. His heart rate was very low, and his blood pressure was high, but my fears of a heart attack were somewhat alleviated. Many tests followed. I tried to focus on reading an art book but found it difficult to concentrate.

After a considerable wait, I learned that he was being admitted to the hospital — which I’d expected. Now, because of all the Covid-19 restrictions, I had not been able to stay with him in the emergency room. Once he was moved upstairs, I was able to join him, but there were nurses and a cardio technician doing different things. Again, long story short, it was about noon before I had a chance to visit with him, and finally I came home to get a bit of rest.

The good news is that after seeing a cardiologist this afternoon and getting more test results back, there is nothing wrong with his heart. That’s very good news! The problem is that he has apparently torn some muscles in his back and shoulder area, and so far even the pain-killers they’re giving him haven’t helped a lot.

At this point, I don’t know what sort of treatment he’ll need and/or when he’ll be able to come home. I’ll know more tomorrow, I hope.

So, back to art and my “hard-edged” painting. Needless to say, the day was exhausting. Worrying and waiting around for test results can be stressful. When I did come home, I did nothing but curl up in my recliner with a huge bowl of popcorn. I don’t think I moved out of that chair all afternoon.

I was about to go to bed when I realized that I hadn’t done anything in the studio today. I’m completely skipped over my 100-day project “assignment”. Maybe it was just because I hated the thought of going to bed without my husband next to me, but instead of trying to sleep I decided to head to the art studio and do the “hard-edges” study I had planned.

This rocky seascape with the spray of water was intended to be not only a chance to try harder edges but also a chance to practice with palette knife painting. I used a brush for the sky and most of the water and spray, but the rocks were all laid in with a palette knife. I’m not good with a palette knife.

So, I did this painting very quickly while stressed-out and exhausted, trying techniques that are difficult, and all in all, once I stepped back and looked at what I’d done, I saw that it was a bit of a mess, but it’s not such a bad mess, really. Maybe my rocks aren’t as hard-edged as they could be, and don’t even ask about any “big idea” or focal point. Maybe my spray of water is thick and clunky, and the clouds I added to the sky turned gray. Oh, well. I accomplished something here. I came to the studio. I picked up a paintbrush. I completed a study. I used a palette knife. I shaped rocks. I played with edges.

All in all, after the long day I had, finishing this painting felt good. It’s a mess, but it’s a good mess, you see. It helped me gain a sense of comfort and a feeling that I accomplished something.

Sometimes life does get messy. Sometimes unexpected things come along. Sometimes we start to feel that events are beyond our control. But we can remain strong, even as the waves beat against us. I drew strength from these rocks. And now, as I write this, it’s late. I’m finally heading for bed. Good-night, all.




    1. Thanks for the good wishes for my husband. Yes, art is more than “what we do”. A lot of “what we feel” goes into it, too. I definitely realized that as I worked on my “hard edge” study.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Mike. Yes, coming down to the studio — even at such an odd hour for me — helped me feel more grounded and centered, more connected to who I am. It was actually very comforting.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope all is well with your husband. Yes, having them gone definitely disrupts us on so many different levels. My husband is now recovery here at home. It hurts to see him in pain, but there’s not much I can do for him.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Very poignant painting and blog. I’m experiencing my own waves-crashing-against-the-rocks right now, so I can relate, too. We all can. This is such a universal theme that it can’t get revisited enough. But that’s what makes it so powerful. … I hope your husband has a speedy recovery and that you can find some space to release the worry. ❀

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks so much, Melody. I know you have a lot to deal with right now, too. I hope you’re able to find creative ways to deal with the stresses and strains life has been throwing at you lately. I appreciate all the good thoughts for my husband.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it was scary. He’s home now, and he’s still hurting. Pain killers aren’t helping. He had a steriod shot in the shoulder — still no idea how he could have hurt it so severely — and will probably need another shot. I’m praying that his body will heal itself soon. I know how miserable he is. 😦 Your good thoughts are appreciated.


    1. It was a “good mess” for me… maybe not exactly what I set out to do, but that’s all right. Coming to the studio and painting after such a long, nerve-wracking day really helped soothe me. It calmed me down and made me feel so much more optimistic about things.


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