Monday, July 02, 2007

Free Admission

Good morning! So nice to have this way to wake up. Not a coffee drinker, or tea for that matter, so a little grapefruit juice and I begin to verbalize, slowly... Yet another rainy day here in the Lower Countries, but it's ok for grisaille. Actually, that's one of the reasons I'm working this way. You only really need good sunlight when you add the color! Of course it is good to have light to check out the values.

It has occurred to me to explain to you all a bit of what I'm doing. About a year and a half ago I began learning painting with a friend. If you read the archives here you can see a bit of history there. I'd done a bit of oil painting in college with a good teacher, but didn't pursue it as I got into textiles. I did enjoy it but I think the truth is that I didn't want to work that hard! I was putting myself through school with a full time job and just barely making it. No regrets though, because the textiles took me on a wonderful journey and in the end I was working hard because I loved it anyway.

When I got here to the Netherlands, I started drawing more and more. Mostly it was to improve my textiles but it took on a life of its own. But there came a certain point where I knew I needed help and had to set aside ego and go get it. I've been a self-educator for a long time and still believe strongly in that and continue to read like mad to learn, but sometimes it is just better to see what someone else can show you and cut a few roads to the main one you want to go down.

Long story, but I decided oil painting was a good idea. Part of it was also because I could see that it was more marketable than textiles. But that is something I've let go of now. Money should never be mixed with the idea making good art. If you have to live on it, ok, that's another kettle of fish and you should think of the best way to do it well and be prosperous, but if you can, don't think about the money while you're making it. Think about beauty, think about fun, think about making art, but think about the money and marketing after. Well, it's my mantra, it doesn't have to be yours.

Back to the story. So I began learning the basics all over again. I've been teaching art for a while so I figured I had that down, but no. Realist painting really won't forgive anything halfway. Sure I knew one point and two point perspective on an elementary level, but that wasn't, isn't, enough. I'm still wrapping my head around that. And value and hue and chroma...all of it. It's quite a challenge. The biggest difficulty for me though was to let go of this tendency to get involved in detail. My friend calls it "looking only partly". I get so fascinated by the small intricacies of each object that I forget to look at the whole picture. This, I think, is finally starting to sink in. It took so long because, well, I'm stubborn. I have my ways and, I suppose because I'm older, am a bit stuck in them. Not that I wasn't always so. It's ironic because I see myself as very open, and yet when it comes to changing habits, it is a struggle.

The best part of learning painting is how it has helped me to view life. One, not looking partly. Looking at the whole picture. I know of a few, more than a few, politicians who could benefit from learning this one rule. Also, that you just can't force life. Creativity, life, has it's own speed, it's own path, and jumping ahead only means you have to eventually backtrack or lose your way. (Though sometimes losing your way is one way to find it.) Best of all about painting is that I'm always learning and know I will keep on learning with this medium for the rest of my life. What a wonderful challenge, exercise, meditation. Painting is a key and I'm using it to unlock all the doors and secret chambers that lie hidden in my mind and in my world. I'm planning on leaving them unlocked, so feel free to drop in for a visit. Admission is free.

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