How to express myself as an artist? What is my message? Have I done justice to the subject?
What if I am making a fool of myself?
These questions and many more stalk every artist. It is no little thing to put your work before others with not a care for the reaction. In truth it is an achievement to get that far. Many do not even begin to create their art. The hurdle of doubt is too high.
The saying goes that if you think it then it already exists. If you do not believe you can paint then that is so. You will not paint. If you stall at the point of starting and quit then you will never know. Could the work really be beyond you?
I hear it from many artists who struggle to get started. No time, no talent, no support, no space and on it goes. These are serious thoughts that must be faced like the school yard bully. Not to means defeat and regret. This is no way to live. Face the thoughts - shine light upon them and see them for what they are. Fearful ideas that pretend to be real and scary, but like the bully, are sent scampering when called out.
Take action today!
If you want to paint then begin this weekend with these three action steps:
There it is. No complication or overthinking required. Only good old fashioned work and a can-do spirit.
Let me know how it goes. Okay?
Does the thought of painting en plein air make you think of old folks passing the time? Do young artists only paint conceptual shock art? You would think that the opposite should be true. Outdoor painting requires some effort and commitment to the cause. An ideal activity for the young artist - and the young at heart. So lets abandon stereotypes and embrace plein air painting for the exciting challenge that it truly is.
Check out one of the "Rebels of Plein Air" in this video.
Have you tried painting outdoors? What have you enjoyed about painting en plein air?
Skies and clouds - beautiful to look at when we have a moment. We often have our head down reading or looking at something and miss so much that is going on above us. The sky has fascinated us since the beginning. For artists the sky is the source of constantly changing subject matter and light. What would we do without light!
The sky should be considered like any other subject that we can paint. The biggest issue though is how do we paint something that changes so rapidly? Would it not be best to simply take a photo and paint what we see there - frozen on paper or the monitor? This can certainly work depending on your painting concept. But it can be rewarding to embrace the motion of the sky by painting en plein air.
I have tried many times to paint from photo references and almost always I end up going in a different direction. I will paint it differently because the photo does not give me the essence of a sky - scale and dynamic movement. These elements have to be experienced first hand. This means getting an impression of what is going on and sticking to that idea while rapidly painting the sky.
Wind, clouds and constantly changing light can become an exciting challenge when you are outdoors with a blank canvas to fill. I find that my painting speeds up. I am laying on the paint in thick dabs or long brushstrokes while looking rapidly from subject to palette and canvas. The result is usually more interesting that a long session in the studio overworking a photo reference.
The painting above shows a sky changing rapidly due to strong winds. The light kept coming out one moment then being obscured by clouds. All I could do was paint instinctively and that was a lot of fun!
A few pointers -
New Year 2015.
A time to consider a few resolutions? I cannot recall ever writing down specific resolutions. This is surely the wrong way to go about making resolutions I need to make a change. I resolve to write down my resolutions this year. This is very doable so I am off to a good start. Next up is getting the resolve to follow through. This is the problem area. We can go wrong here for several reasons.
Distractions make focusing on our goals difficult. Consider that we live in the age of distractions, which makes it difficult to follow through on a goal. Get rid of distractions. TV, smartphone addiction and any other activity that is not taking you in the right direction. It is a distraction.
Then there is waiting until conditions are just right. For example getting a solid body of work together for an exhibition. Either the works are not quite ready or I want to get another subject done, but there are other things coming up that need attention. Before long I am putting off the goal until next year. The fact is conditions are never perfect. There is always something else that could be done. The idea is to do it in spite of conditions not being ideal. Then you have action.
What about if you have the desire, but fear a lack of skill? Or maybe you want a better studio or materials or need some other conditions to be met before getting started? There is only one thing to do. Start with what you have. Even cavemen who painted with the most basic of materials have produced lasting works of beauty. How can we complain with our abundance of art materials? Get started with what you have and it becomes easier.
Do what you can. This is not glamour. It is honest. Take what you have with your passion for creativity and get to work. This sort of attitude will carry you much further and for longer than some grandiose resolution that never sees the light of day.
Yes I have a few ideas of what I want for the year and I am visualising them as I write this. But most of all I am resolved to start now with what I have. The rest will follow at the right time and place. That I think is how the universe works.
Happy New Year!