Thursday, June 16, 2016

Lots of Talk About Fear and Making Art

No. 3, an idea that has not quite materialized as envisioned.

A few days ago I was reading art articles on the Web looking for ideas to add to an Exploring Color Workshop that I’ll be teaching next week.  I came across two quotes that I thought had more meaning in a few sentences than several entire articles I read about Artists and Fear.  One day in the painting class I teach, we were discussing why it’s so hard for artists to put themselves out there when they first start learning to paint.  One student said, “if you’re a musician and you flub a few notes when you practice, no one remembers a week later when you play it right, but if you’re an artist, that messed up painting is there staring at you every time you go in your studio.”  And we might add, “and everyone else can see it too.”  Then there’s the huge demon that seems to rest on many new artists’ shoulders –" I’ve got to produce a perfect painting the very first time I try to paint, especially if I’m in a workshop because everyone else is better than I am.Would we expect to play Beethoven before we learned to read music?   Finally, there’s that belief that so many of us share that we need permission from someone (we don't know exactly who) – permission to try a new medium, permission to paint something no one else will find appealing, permission to paint something really dark and sinister or whatever.  For those who have ever had these fears – copy these quotes and post them where you make art:

IT’S NOT YOUR JOB TO TELL YOURSELF NO. It’s not your job to reject yourself or grade yourself or debate the value or worthiness of your ideas. YOUR JOB IS TO CREATE. Your job is to share. Your job is to overcome fear and run the race.

NOW IS AS GOOD A TIME AS ANY.  Do not wait for someone to give you permission to start.  [Just put down a mark!!]
Jinga, permission to try again came out better

Monday, June 13, 2016

Making the Most of A Workshop

 Scenario #1   A friend tells you about a terrific artist she's just discovered.  You go to the Internet and take a look.  Wow, he's really as good as she said. I wonder if he gives workshops. Scenario #2 You attend a meeting and hear about a new workshop being offered not far from home and just when you have time to take it.  You decide you could use some new techniques and ideas so you sign up.  You get to the workshop and you work really hard trying to make your work look exactly like this master artist's.  Three days after the workshop, you can't remember what you learned and back to the same old same old you go.  Sound familiar?  Sometimes as artists we tend to approach our art somewhat aimlessly -- I can't think of anything that really excites me so I'll just paint from that photo I took last week.  Sometimes that works well and we're happy with what we produce, often, not so much. The same holds true for workshops.
         Prior to taking what turned out to be one of the very best workshops I've ever taken, I read a two part article in the Palette Magazine, an excellent publication for intermediate to advanced artists, that discussed having a plan for getting the most from a workshop.  Among the ideas discussed was thinking about the areas of our knowledge that we feel are lacking and then  actually setting goals.  This may sound too premeditated for some people but for me it sounded like an excellent idea.  I thought about  the weaknesses in my pastels and the way I approached them.  I studied the website of the nationally known artist who was giving the workshop.  I decided what I liked most about his work and how I might incorporate some of his techniques in mine.  I set only two goals.  I had a plan.
        The three days I spent with Richard McKinley were a revelation.
Not only did I learn some new techniques, most importantly, Richard used incredible analogies (especially to orhcestras and music -- something that really resonated) to clarify and explain so many of the concepts I'd already been exposed to that had never quite gelled. Having some goals in mind allowed me to focus on the concepts he taught that would most help me improve. I made sure that my notes in those areas were especially clear and thorough.  Going in with both a plan and a willingness to try whatever he suggested meant that I was more likely to remember what I thought was important and be able to use it once the workshop was over.  I promised myself that I would actually use the techniques immediately after the workshop and I did.  Richard's sense of humor, warmth and incredible knowledge provided all of those who attended with a wonderful experience and a wealth of ideas.  One takeaway --"Don't Fall in Love with Any Part of Your Painting -- Nothing is Precious" Thank you Richard.  Below is one of the paintings I worked on during this workshop:
Folly Beach Revisited