Yesterday, I picked up a paintbrush for the first time in over a year. Not a housepainting brush – way to handyperson for me! I’ve started oil painting.
This is a totally new area for me. The medium I’m most comfortable with is pastels, and in recent years I’ve tried acrylic paints. To celebrate being able to get back to painting, I decided to challenge myself.
And boy, is it a challenge! I’m not sure if it’s the medium or if it’s the fact the teacher has a totally different approach to painting to me, but I felt like I was struggling in class. It seemed that when we were supposed to be taking our time, I was rushing ahead. When we were supposed to be blocking in, I was getting captivated by brushstrokes. When we were supposed to be painting in detail, I was blocking in movement. Everything felt wrong, and I very nearly concluded that I hated oil paints as much as I do watercolour (another story – don’t get me started!).
I wasn’t quite ready to give up, though, and when I got home I propped the painting up somewhere I would see it often. And you know, despite all of the things wrong with it, I can see the energy in my painting. I can see the depth in the shadows contrasting with areas that will be lighter when it’s finished. Not all of the colour is there yet, but I can see that when it is, there’ll be a lot of movement and expressiveness in it, some essence of my style despite this medium being so foreign. The bare bones are there, even though I didn’t know at the time that was what I was laying down. In other words, when I stopped thinking about what I should be doing, I started to see strengths I could build on and ways I could fix the weaknesses.
So what has this got to do with writing? It can be summed up like this:
- learn your craft
- practice often
- try something new
- don’t give up and don’t throw anything away
- and above all, forget what you’re supposed to be doing and let the artist in you take over