So you think you have no time to paint? One of the things I learned doing the 31 in 31 challenge last month is that there really is always a way to carve out time to create art.
I spend a lot of time on my computer these days, e.g. working on my blog, connecting with members of the HowToPastel Facebook group, or developing my online courses. I often feel desperate for and incapable of finding time to get in my studio, but having done the challenge, I realize that’s a crock! It’s easy to make excuses about having no time to paint. So what to do about it?
Today I painted even though I didn’t feel like it. The reason? This blog. The looming deadline acted as a spark and ignited my painting soul. And I realized how important it is to paint even when you don’t feel like it.
Painting isn’t easy.
Being creative isn’t easy.
It’s damn hard work in fact. And because it’s hard work, sometimes we just don’t do it!
Those who don’t create usually don’t understand how difficult painting is. It’s all, “What fun it must be to spend time all day painting” and “How lucky you are to spend time painting.” True for sure, but you just know the way it’s being said that those speakers think it’s an easy, laadeedah thing you’re doing.
I was on a deadline today – a post was due to be published! I wanted to show you a progression through one of my paintings. Problem was, I didn’t have anything to share. So I needed to get creative quickly. I set a timer and chose a limited palette by using a starter set. I decided on Terry Ludwig’s Best Loved Basics because I knew it contained a deep purple and I was going to need it since I’d be painting plums. Once I got started though I wondered how in the world it would be successful – I was missing colours I felt I needed!! But I didn’t have time to waffle about so I got stuck in and embraced the restriction of the limited palette. Have a look!
Yayyyyyyy, summer’s here in all its glory. That means it’s time to get pastelling outdoors!! For me, it takes some revving up to do when I’m out of the habit. While Cam was away, I made it a goal to start the ball rolling. I took myself out for breakfast (hmmmm…reward first?) then found a neighbouring park where I set up to paint the sunny view of sea and sailboats.
So let’s take a look at what happened when I went painting en plein air.
There’s so much in a garden to paint – long views and closeups, flowers and garden accoutrements, seasonal changes or a single season, a garden corner or an entire garden – all make for great subject matter!
I’m in Ontario to teach at the ICAN Pastel Conference in Aurora during the week. Happily the plan is to spend both weekends with my sister and her family. Last weekend at her place, I found some quiet time to pastel en plein air. It’s been awhile since I’ve painted on location – Mexico in February was the last time – so this was such a pleasure. Hot weather standing in the shade painting. What could be nicer?
Today, I’m thinking about the importance of play in art.
I feel pulled in so many different ways on a daily basis. There’s so much to get done – finishing my new course, writing and organizing blog posts, updating my websites (hah!), nevermind painting. And oh yeah, what about fun time, downtime, a balanced life?!
I’m reading a fascinating book called Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less which is all about doing more of the right things. This morning, I skipped to the chapter on ‘Play’. Author Greg McKeown defines ‘play’ as, “anything we do simply for the joy of doing rather than a means to an end.”
We’re back from our two-week vacation in La Manzanilla, Mexico where we danced up a storm during the first week in a tango intensive workshop and then relaxed a bit in the second which is when I managed to get some pastelling time in. This pastel is a view from the verandah of Martin’s Restaurant. At first I was a bit overwhelmed by the scene until I spoke the mantra, simplify, simplify, simplify! It’s always good when you remember that you don’t have to put everything in – only include what you want to say something about. Let’s have a look at the view and the thumbnail sketch I did of it.
I’m in La Manzanilla, Mexico. My first thought was to do a plein air piece to share with you but guess what? It was a cloudy day and without the sunlight to sparkle the scene, nothing inspired me. So what to do? I decide to make use of my life experience in the painting.
I’d been speaking to Jennifer here in La Manz. She’s recently opened a retail shop called Zingara. I asked her what the word meant. She said, “It’s Italian for gypsy, bohemian, wild thing.” Wow, I thought, that fits nicely with the Bohemian Girl series I’ve been working on in my studio (in acrylic). I had my idea.
I think many of us artists have this problem – knowing when a painting is finished. Sometimes, without our realizing it, a painting is finished back a few steps. I know my tendency is to want to pick away, making the tiniest of tweaks. Often this can eradicate the spontaneity that was there especially when it comes to work done en plein air. We bring the piece back into the studio, study it, and then see the ‘flaws’ which we need to ‘correct’. Often these so called flaws are what bring the painting to vibrant life and ‘correcting’ them brings along a slow death. Unless we stop in time. And when is that time?
This summer on Salt Spring Island, I was fortunate to paint en plein air a few times with my Mum and Dad. I keep saying it but really, there’s nothing like painting on location for a rewarding experience, both in life and in technical and skills learning. So what did I learn this time?
Before I go on, let me tell you what attracted me to this scene. I have passed this place by car so many times and thought, I’d like to paint that! Why? Well first off, I’m a sucker for paths and roads that take us somewhere (obvious or hidden). I also love the light patterns made by trees over such paths. And I love yellow houses! This scene had all these elements in spades.
Let’s take a look at my progress. Continue reading