Lessons From Art

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

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. kseverny
    Feb 07, 2010 @ 18:45:08

    the secrets for success


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