Jumping in with both feet


, ,

I am a note taker. I enjoy researching new projects; looking at photographs of my subject matter, writing down goals of what I want to accomplish for a new painting. However, I am NOT a patient person, and there is one thing I’ve tried to do but, unfortunately, do not have the patience for, and that’s to do warm-up paintings or quick sketches before starting a new piece of art. There’s an artist I discovered on Facebook not long ago whose techniques and works I greatly admire, and he’s taught me a lot in his short instructional videos. One thing he does every morning, or before starting a new piece, is to paint several preliminary warm-up paintings. It works for him and gets him loose. I, on the other hand, am so impatient to start a new piece, that I typically dispense with any kind of sketching or preplanning, and jump right in.  Occasionally, but very rarely, will I do any preplanning. And for the longest time I’ve felt very guilty over the fact that I’m not doing what this artist, whom I admire does, and that I’m SUPPOSED to do it his way. Now, I can totally understand the need for doing warm-up exercises, to loosen up, and I’m sure most art teachers and instructors will tell you that it’s a useful practice to start. But I tend to do my loosening up right there on a fresh, blank canvas. And sometimes the greatest surprises come from working this way. Is it the best way? Probably not for most people, but it is for me, and I’ve decided not to chastise myself anymore because I don’t do warm-up paintings. I do look at my values and contrasting colors there on the canvas, and if I need to make adjustments, I do it. The lesson here? We all have different ways of working, of working out our creative problems, and what works for some may not work for you. There is no exact RIGHT way, or, if there is, it’s whatever the right way is for you.

I’ll share with you a painting I started a couple of days ago of a work in progress, of what will eventually be an abstract interpretation of my favorite painting of all time, Vincent van Gogh’s “Cafe Terrace at Night.” I started with no preliminary paintings, just a quick sketch in charcoal, straight on the canvas, and this is the underpainting to this point, with no planning. The end result will probably hardly resemble this initial start, and it’s probably not the “right” way, but I’m having a blast, and that’s all that counts. So, embrace and celebrate the part of you that rebels. You might find your best work in the process.





Why I Don’t Quit


, , , , , ,

If you’re any kind of creative person at all, a writer, artist, etc., there are probably times, and have been times in the past, when you’ve wanted to throw in the towel; you haven’t been successful, sales are slow, no interest at all in what you do or have to offer, and you feel like it would be so easy to just stop what you’re doing, to stop torturing yourself and doubting your abilities and thinking you’ll never measure up, that you’ll never be successful or good enough like other people in your field. I’ve done this at least once a week in my creative journey. But, two weeks ago I sold a piece of art. This little piece.

Now, this piece was a little different from what I usually paint, but I got the inspiration from a book I was reading. I usually paint more cheerful, upbeat subjects or use lighter, brighter colors, but the author described a setting in a part of the town the story took place in, and I could smell it, hear the street noises, and picture the abandoned buildings and warehouses in this long forgotten district, hence the name “The Forgotten District.” Anyway, I listed it on Etsy, where it pretty much matched its title and stayed forgotten for close to two years and, even though I liked it, I considered it one of my least successful pieces, based on the number of views it was getting.

Then, one day two weeks ago, it sold! Hallelujah, I couldn’t believe it. Of all of my pieces, this is the one that I thought would probably NEVER sell, that it would be hanging around in my family long after I was gone.  However, I lovingly wrapped it up and sent it off to the buyer and, a week later, got the most wonderful email from her:

The piece is beautiful. I want to step right into the city you’ve painted. Thanks also for the additional piece. I’ll be featuring it in my blog in the next few weeks.

Best of luck as you pursue your dreams.

Well. Needless to say, I was speechless and thrilled. Who would’ve thought that this humble little piece would’ve found just the right owner, who could appreciate it as well as share it on her blog?!

I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this, right? Do.Not.Stop.Doing.Your.Thing. Stop being harsh with yourself and giving up on something before you give it a chance to float around in the universe for a while.  You do NOT know who might see your work and absolutely love it. This little art sale and the subsequent message from the buyer taught me that, and it’s exactly what I needed to keep going. I hope you take this lesson and apply it to your own endeavors.