What do you need to setup your plein air painting adventure? Glad you asked because in this three part series of videos I am going to show you exactly how. First we look at the materials you need to make a go of your plein air painting. Then we take a little trip to the beach to paint a study in oils. Then back to the studio to consider the painting. All in all plein air painting is a delight when you have the basics in place. So let's dive into the world of plein air.
If the seventies and eighties were formative years in your life then you will be heading off to the movies. Perhaps for a second or third time? I am of course referring to the biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, that is currently on circuit. I also went to see it recently. The experience (because it is) rekindled intense memories. Personally I loved the movie. My wife and I have chatted about it a lot these past few days. It has given us a little shake up.
With hindsight comes perfect clarity they say. Well, somewhat clearer anyway. After spending a few days mulling over this movie, the old times and what the heck it all means anyway, I have an answer. It is so painfully simple.
How do you respond to setbacks or frustration with your work? For artists this question is especially important. Most artists work alone and must keep creating new work. This can create pressure especially when this involves personal expectations.
For example, which of these people remind you of someone?
They say that there are three chronic types of fear: the fear of failure, fear of success and fear of change. Which one do you relate to?
Studies suggest that the greatest fear out of these three is the fear of change. I have to agree based on my limited experience. But I believe that this fear also has the greatest potential for helping us grow. There is no better time to start than right now. Ready?
Be careful what you wish for. It may come true, but not quite as you hoped for. This ancient moral is explored in the spooky story, The Monkey's Paw by W.W. Jacobs. Even if Halloween is not your thing you may enjoy this fun, but chilling tale. I certainly had fun putting a reading together for my Artist's Journey Podcast. So turn the lights down and listen to this classic story.
In this podcast episode I want to explore how attitude influences out creative process. How can we get more control over creating positive work when our moods and attitudes are easily influenced? It is not always easy. Especially for artists. You can listen to the episode below. Plus there is a full transcript if you prefer to read.
Are you starting to lose momentum? Do you start off in January with a plan and get stuck during February. Try again in March and find you are running on empty the next month or so? This is a familiar pattern for me. Perhaps you can relate? This is a pattern that affects everybody. Even retirees find themselves burned out and need to renew their energy reserves. How can you eliminate this destructive pattern so that you have quality time for work and play?
Light. What would we do without it? Our little blue planet depends on it. At least life on the planet does. And somewhere in the entire hierarchy of beings dwell the artists. Those peculiar people who seek out light in all its forms for their works of art. Sunrise, sunset and in all weather conditions light in its abundance or elusiveness continues to mesmerize the landscape artist. Seems a pity not to do a good job with it then.
The Grahamstown National Arts Festival kicks off at the end of June each year. It is a wonderful occasion that stands out in South Africa as a beacon for the arts. Eleven days of celebrating of all that is artsy-fartsy in this small cathedral city. I love it. I went to university there and I have not missed a festival since. But are festivals like this still relevant and sustainable?
Do you remember the TV series Cosmos hosted by Carl Sagan? It is a wonderful series and Carl Sagan remains peerless in communicating the mystery of all things universal. Episode 8 stands out in my memory. The part where Sagan illustrates some of the weird things that will happen if you could travel near to the speed of light.
An Italian teenager decides to go for a scooter ride. Before he sets off he says goodbye to his young friend, Vincenzo, who is sitting on a bench in the village square. Our scooter rider does even better than Valentino Rossi and manages to travel near to the speed of light. All sorts of strange things happen at such speeds as described by Albert Einstein in his Theories of Relativity. When the rider returns after about fifteen minutes of travel he finds the village square deserted. Except for a very old man sitting on the bench. Yes, the old man happens to be Vincenzo, the formerly young friend waiting in the square. The teenage rider has not aged, but his friend is now a geriatric. Ouch!
Moral of the story? If you want to cheat time find a way to travel near to the speed of light. But you may not like the consequences. Short of light speed we all need to find another way to occupy our limited time on this isolated planet. I like the idea that if you keep moving you are able to make the best of your time. This got me thinking about creativity and artists. Do we have a special opportunity to get more out of time?
Playing in Life's Second Half:
I am sure if you are north of forty years old you have noticed how time seems to move quicker. As a child an hour could feel like days. Especially on a Sunday afternoon! Now the hours fly by in seconds. I cannot help but notice that I am now playing in the second half of life’s game. And it is in the second half of any game where greatness can be achieved. Think of any sport and there will be many examples of great feats of achievement in the last moments of the game. Why not in life too?
Artist's Unique Opportunity:
Artists have a unique opportunity to make the most of time. I speak of art in the broadest sense. Everyone who puts their heart into their work goes beyond mere step-by-step performance. These people transform their work into art. Some stand out as shining beacons over time. Da Vinci, Picasso, Einstein and many more. Immortal in their achievements.
How We Can Transform Time:
What about the rest of us who do not rise to these illustrious heights? No problem. We must remember that the object of life is not fame or fortune. It is rather about making the most of our talents in the time we have been given. Create, share and contribute something positive to the world. All of these actions create positive energy. Ripples that keep going. You may never know it, but your creative actions may influence greatness in someone else. Plus you feel better and more energised and the cycle continues. You have transformed your time into something meaningful.
Yes there are ups and downs, but as they say, it is the trend that counts over time. If the trend is up then you can safely say that your life has been pretty good. Like Sinatra says, as long as your regrets are too few to mention.
So how to go about the daily grind with a creative attitude? Not everybody finds this easy to do. Especially when life has been dishing out some tough moments. Here are a few bare-knuckle thoughts:
1. Be Aware of Your Thoughts and Words: Possibly the most important thing any of us can do is to become aware of our own thoughts and words. How we think about others and ourselves determines our attitude to life. So often we blame others, but never consider our own part. Or we say negative things to ourselves and to others. Those words are powerful. So begin by stepping back and observing what you say and do. For example if you catch yourself losing your temper try and stop the flow of anger and think about what triggers you. Is it worth the drama?
2. Be Aware of Others Who Negatively Influence You: This can be friends, family or the media. Ask yourself who brings you down or depletes your energy? It is time to take responsibility for your creative energy and attitude. Avoid the negative people or media that bring you down. Start today by ditching the newspaper that makes you boil with indignation every time you read it.
3. Identify Your Passion: This topic may sound a little trite these days. Follow your passion is a cliche, but simply try to identify what you love doing. That activity that engages your mind and body fully so that time seems to fly by. You emerge calmer and happier. Plus there is something positive to show for it. A piece of art, a chapter in a book, a new bookshelf, a loaf of bread, a new tune on your guitar and so on. These are your passion activities and you need to nurture them.
4. Drop Your Baggage: This links up with item 1. But it includes taking responsibility for yourself. Have you listened to someone you know carry on about something that happened long ago? They blame a parent, boss, partner or circumstance. No matter that the event took place thirty years ago. Some folks just cannot leave it alone. They nurture the negative energy. The result is an excuse for not trying anything worthwhile. And true failure only happens when you do not try at all. Plus it is so boring to listen to that sort of stuff! So drop the baggage so that you can move on and do something that gives you joy. That helps you grow and find the peace you deserve. Then you can use time properly.
5. Make a Start: Are you too busy? Too scared? Too lazy? What is really keeping you from starting your creative work? Ask yourself these provocative questions, because honesty is critical. No more deluding yourself with excuses. Get tough and get started. Yes you may have to sacrifice something like binge watching on Netflix. If it is using your time then you need to make sure it is truly worthwhile. If your deceptive mind yells out: I don’t have time! Then add these two words: ...to waste! You do not have time to waste. Momentum is key. Begin and the work becomes easier and you get results.
Measure your Time:
I have developed an idea that each painting produced is a marker. It marks a moment in time used well. I can look at the painting and know that my energy and hands created something. My precious time was not wasted. Whether the painting is sold or not is irrelevant. I know that I was doing something meaningful. This also helps me to be aware of time. When goofing off I know that time is being wasted. So I know that I must cut out the waste and get back to my art. Having fun is not goofing off either. I am not talking about living a dull working life. We need to know the difference between living fully and wasting time.
The Clock Keeps Ticking:
Time machines may exist one day when we can travel close to light speed. But then again maybe not. For now all we can do is make the most of the time we have right now. Starting today. Know that as an artist you have a duty. To Create Art. In this way you contribute to the world today and perhaps leave your mark on the world tomorrow.
Do you want to rekindle your creative talent? Perhaps you have retired and used to paint long ago. But getting started seems silly or difficult? Leave a comment or Contact me and I will see if I can help.