Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Paint (or draw) like no one is looking!

I find that I do my best work when I just paint or draw for their own sake. I know we can't really do that all the time. To be a working artist, you must make some concessions either for the juried shows or organizations to the commissions you may luckily land. As Frank Lloyd Wright once said,

"Art for art's sake is a  philosophy of the well-fed."

So true that is. It's easy for me to espouse the glory of making art for myself since I don't try to market my work anymore. I am well-fed. My husband works full-time and I, as well, teaching three times a week and on several weekends.
Blue Garden, ©2013
Stippling with colored pens

When I was painting and/or drawing in hopes of selling, I felt restricted, bound by the market or client, and I believed it showed. I go through my earlier work and a lot of it is stilted, hopeful. Granted I was in the process of learning; so of course, things wouldn't come together as easily as they do now. 

In those early years I was trying to remember everything I was taught or read. It was overwhelming. As the learning curve expanded and my foundation grew stronger, things became second nature. But in the beginning, everything was insufferably difficult. A case in point was color. 

I remember taking a class and having a very difficult time with mixing the right colors. I had worked in black and white for so long, it was hard for me to choose which color was best. This is actually very strange if you consider that for over 25 years I designed ads that burst with color. What happened? Fear happened. I knew what I was doing in advertising, but in fine art, yikes! That was a whole different set of rules--or so I thought.

So here I was in class struggling, not knowing what color to put with the other. The teacher suggested that perhaps I had a color deficiency. Yes, you read that correctly. I really don't know why teachers do this to people. There was nothing wrong with me physically. But if I had believed her, I could have, at that point, walked away and never returned to fine art again--remember I was returning after decades of disbelief I could do this. Fortunately, I had enough background in color (and determination) to know that I had to begin from the beginning and learn what I didn't know. 

That meant returning to the color wheel. I also recall feeling pretty stupid having to return to such a simple tool. I knew all the basics but I also learned knowing and doing are two different things. Intellectually, I knew yellow and blue make green. But there are so many variables, such as combining a cool blue with a warm yellow. That doesn't always turn out the way it's supposed to. So I pulled out my paints, at that time watercolor, and started mixing. I kept on failing, yes failing. That's what happens when you're learning. The greens didn't look right and my purples were definitely off. I just kept on reading, studying and experimenting, which became the key to my success.

One of the things I love best about fine art or any art for that matter is that you have the chance to experiment--take risks, take a chance to see if this works or that. Unfortunately, if I'm bogged down with writing, drawing, painting or anything for the market or client, I'm going to do less experimentation and more what sells. Time becomes money, instead of time becomes fun.

Today I wonder what that teacher would say to me if she saw how I put colors together with abandon--my inhibitions are gone because I know if I don't like what I am doing, I can do it again, and again, and again. That's what I mean about painting or drawing as if no one is looking. It's my I-don't-give-a-damn attitude that comforts me today. But that doesn't mean I don't have to learn anymore. I am in a constant learning mode. There's always a new technique, a new way to approach a problem. I'll never stop learning and practicing. 

No matter what, I have to admit that by giving myself the freedom to ignore the marketplace, juries and commissions, I am much happier to do my art just for me--to create as if no one is looking!
More Fall Fun
Visual Journaling Class
Sunday, November 10th
Come explore and enjoy yourself through paper, glue and pen.
Every Second Sunday
1 p.m. to 4 p.m. $20 per class 
Workshops at Studio in Tigard 
 Drawing with Pen and Ink Workshop
Bonus! with acrylic inks!
Saturday, November 16
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. $70
Learn how to illustrate with pen and ink, using watercolor washes, while exploring nib pens, methods and techniques. Special bonus, we will be using acrylic inks as well as traditional. Bring at least a 9 x 12 sketchbook–90# or above (Nature Sketch by Pentallic, Moleskine Watercolor, or Strathmore Multimedia) All other supplies and lunch provided. No experience necessary. Age 16+

Sketching Trips in 2014
Sketching the English Village
Only 4 spots left
May 25-June 1, 2014
For one week, we'll stay at the lovely Chiseldon House Hotel.  The accommodations include a nicely appointed room with daily full-English breakfast and lunch.  We'll meet every day from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., sketching the village to include the 900 A.D. Holy Cross church, thatched-roofs cottages, ancient buildings, local pubs, prehistoric trails and so much more. See this link for more details:

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