The view out of Rachel Mohler’s kitchen window is so picturesque that it should be a painting—in fact, it is a painting. Or, should we say, it is many paintings. Rachel has painted that ever-changing view nearly a hundred times since her resolution to complete a painting-a-day started on January 1, 2017.
Her New Year’s Resolution had no real rules, so Rachel kept it seemingly simple, painting the view from the picture window in her new home on the mountain in Sabillasville. Each day she paints a unique rendition of the scene on a new 2×3 inch piece of gesso board.
The goal of a resolution is often measured in quantity, like counting calories or losing weight, or an absence of quantity, like stopping a bad habit or abstaining from eating a certain food. Rachel’s resolution seemed to be of the first variety, simple arithmetic—a painting a day.
In fact, Rachel’s resolution took on a life of its own, complete with the emotion of changing moods in the weather; the changing perceptions of the scene by Rachel, her children, and her husband; and the lessons of attention to detail: appreciation of nature, awe of the grand order of the world, rhythm and changing palette of the seasons, ebb and flow of life, happiness about being part of something grand, and peace in new inspiration.
Rachel has captured the scene at the birth of sunrise, the rest of sunset, the blanketing of snow, the cloak of fog, the bathing of sun, the cleansing of rain, and amidst the demand of storm. She said, “Sometimes the fog goes on for days, but then you realize, the color of the fog is changing depending on what’s going on above the fog.”
In the first two weeks, she painted with her usual watercolor but couldn’t quite capture the beauty of the images as well as she wanted, so she switched to oil paint. Feeling somewhat intimidated by oils, Rachel told herself, “Just do it. That’s how you’re going to learn.” So, she completed her first-ever oil paintings.
As the days progressed, Rachel noticed involvement by her children. “They’re seeing when the clouds are pink, the sky is green, there’s a rainbow.” At one point, her daughter Saige (turning five in June), joined the project and completed her own watercolor paintings on small pieces of hand-torn paper.
With a five-year-old (Saige), a three-year-old (Atlas), and a one-year-old (Wren), the mom artist was bound to battle the demands for her time, and family comes first—as it should. This winter, one family member after another battled sickness, as strep, flu, pink eye, and fever swept through the family. Because of this, Rachel was not able to meet the painting-a-day demand.
Reconciling what could be construed as a failure, Rachel was able to give herself a break after talking to her husband, Brian, and her mother, Linda Faulkner, who are very supportive of her. Her mother, who is also an artist, told Rachel, “If you had a friend who went on a diet and fell off the wagon a bit but still was making progress, would you call her a failure?”
Rachel surmised, ”If I can just give myself some grace, it’ll be okay.” So, she paints when she can.
Having never done a daily or a long-term goal project, Rachel quickly streamlined her painting processes. She takes photos of the view with her phone. Her choice of 2×3 inch gesso boards was really a matter of convenience. With three youngsters, she needed her studio to be at-the-ready when the opportunity to paint presented itself. Therefore, she owns a small travel portfolio case that, when unzipped, has all supplies handy, including pens, pre-cut boards, her brushes, and a small old tobacco tin that she purchased from the Emmitsburg Antique Mall, used as her paint box so her paints don’t dry out.
The many paintings that Rachel has completed so far are displayed on the wall next to the family’s dining room table. Some look like photographs. Each painting is different.
There is one painting that Rachel does not like. She has repainted it several times. The image was from Valentine’s Day morning. Rachel explained, “It was the most beautiful sunrise ever. The sun shone like a spotlight into the sky on the clouds. I just cannot capture the light of the clouds. I can’t even count how many times I’ve started that one over. I just don’t have the skill to capture it yet.” Undeterred, Rachel aspired, “It will make me feel better once I’ve conquered it.”
Read more about Rachel’s story and her painting-a-day resolution results at the end of this year in The Catoctin Banner Newspaper. To see postings of Rachel’s paintings visit Instagram.com/rhmohler and facebook.com/rhmohler.