Art is supposed to make us relax a bit more, right? It is a pastime that could be on the doctor’s list of prescriptions for stressed out patients. Of course artists are laid back and carefree folk with tie-dyed cloths. It makes sense to take up painting for good health and besides there is no physical exertion involved. Well I have to agree, except for the tie-dyed clothes, that art can do all those things. But is it likely?
The most common pitfall is that we get caught up in unreasonable expectations. This is usually our ego getting in the way. Being attached to an outcome almost always leads to disappointment. We see a painting in our mind’s eye, but the outcome looks nothing like the masterpiece we envisaged. Suddenly excuses start cropping up that are designed to avoid embarassment. Things like painting is expensive, I don’t have the time or we start to doubt our talent. All imagined but given life by our very thoughts!
Recently I caught myself out. I had been going through a dry spell. I was missing the spark that would get me fired up. Something was missing and it was getting me down. What was it that was holding me back? Sure it was not something dramatic because others still liked what I was doing, but I knew that there was something out of alignment.
Then it dawned on me when I changed medium to watercolours. It was this change of technique using a large mop brush that gave me a wake-up call. The beauty of watercolours is that you cannot become tight and controlled. Water is not like that. It flows, splashes and splatters. That is the great part. You have to have your wits about you though and think ahead, but boy is it great to see those accidental effects. By some magic in the drying process those crazy moments of frenetic painting change into a vibrant and energetic painting.
So the moment of realisation was that I had succumbed to little-brush-syndrome with my oils. In the quest for more realism I had sacrificed what I loved most about the process. The vibrancy and energy of large shapes and large brushwork. My painting was getting tight and it was not my natural style. I threw aside the little brushes and completed two small oils in rapid succession using nothing smaller than a number 10 or 12 brush. Fantastic! It felt right and I was relieved and happy.
Whatever your natural style may be try to be in tune with your expressive nature. That is when the joy begins.
As Kevin MacPherson says:”Paint by the pound”. Painting for me is an expression of who I am. I want to be moved by what I do. I want those brush strokes bold and juicy and the colours to resonate. Painting must be fun. Loosen up and go for it.
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