In Case You are Wondering . . .

I painted today . . .and Sunday. But I cannot post the image because it is a Christmas project that must remain confidential until after Christmas.

I did, however, write something I might pass along to my classes . . .enjoy!

I called it “Sunday Musings.” . . . . . .

So far, since opening this blog to talk about and show my beginning oil painting experiences, I have covered nearly 150 canvases . . . give or take. What I set out to do was to rapidly roll up painting experience. One cannot do it at workshops or read about it or watch demos or even by watching DVDs. Pure and simply, to coin a phrase, you just gotta do it.

In the culling out of the inventory, I could clearly see that in just 7 months time there has been a lot of growth. There is a big difference in today’s paintings versus those of just a few months ago. And the differences are on all fronts. Here are a few things I have learned about painting . . .

Some people believe there are ‘rules.’ For geddaboudit ! Paint regardless of them. The only rules one must religiously obey are those for personal safety. Paint and see what happens!

Fear exists in every artist. It is there in all forms and is characterized in many odd ways. It’ll always be there. Read “Art and Fear” by Ted Orland. It is a great book that speaks directly to each of us on a personal level. Frightened? Intimidated? Heck with it! Paint anyway!

Sometimes, there is burn out. Invariably, something will appear and kick new excitement into the mix. If one wants to learn, paint anyway.

Art is not about painting ‘things.’ It is about painting relationships. Not love and friendship and that stuff. Creating relationships on a canvas has to do with developing true harmony and unity and, yes, contrasts or conflicts between colors, values, textures, shapes, sizes and directions. Details matter very little. If the relationships are right, the details just don’t matter. So, paint!

Very exciting ‘detail’ in a painting really isn’t detail. It only *looks like* detail.

The best paintings leave something to the imagination of the viewer. A little ambiguity can create a lot of excitement. Try to paint some!

The best teacher is experience, personally wrought, personally struggled and personally won. That also makes for much more pride in your own work. So, learn to love the struggle; Paint!

I have also learned that one can never quite reach their vision of what a completed work should look like. Our skills will always lag what our mind thinks we should be able to produce. It is like the mule attempting to reach the carrot at the end of the stick . . .one never reaches the carrot, but covers a lot of ground in the attempt. Chase the carrot; paint!

The learning is in the doing. Just do it!

7 thoughts on “In Case You are Wondering . . .”

  1. Mike, what an inspiring letter! Thank you for posting that. We all get to benefit from your dedication and commitment. I do notice a difference from your first attempts with oils. You’ve made steady progress for 7 months.

    I was musing over the fact that most of the observations you listed about painting can also be applied to marriages. Especially; “The details don’t matter if the relationships are right.”

    The tree in the last painting is so beautiful! Inspiring text there too.

  2. Mike,

    I am going to agree with almost everything but add one thing.

    An artist must find a MENTOR! One guy that will look at their work and give them an HONEST critique.

    You wont get honest critiques from family, blogs, or even galleries.

    Painting everyday will make you progress but how fast. Mentors can shave YEARS off your struggles.

    I know for me even painting everyday was never enough. The progress really started when my mentor stopped me at every cross road and pointed me in the right direction.

  3. Elio and Dear Readers . . . .I both agree and disagree with the idea of a mentor.

    The need to understand how all the elements work together in concert in a painting is tantamount for all artists. Most painters start out painting ‘things.’ A good teacher / mentor must be able to teach the student how to THINK and measure how things are working in a painting . . . . to be able to crit their own work . .and to create new paths.

    On the other hand, the danger of a ‘mentor’ is that many of those, who would engage themselves as such, can only teach something I call “How to Paint Like Me.” Most workshops and classes I have attended have this sort of leadership.

    An artist MUST find their own voice. Without it, they become nothing more than a replica of someone else. For that reason, the only way to develop one’s own voice is to eventually think for themself and develop for themself, which is NOT easy in this world of instant communications and examples. A great mentor will encourage this, and suggest other alternative ways to approach something, as I am sure yours does.

    Elio . . .I know you think highly of and credit your mentor, as you should. This comment is not intended to be insulting to you, him, or your work. It is just my well earned opinion.

    Oh, and by the way, Elio, I LOVE that you comment here. I think between us, we can help someone elso out there shave years off their development by being straight here. Don’t you think?

  4. AMEN to it all.

    I find my own occasional “mentors” (who do not even know they are). Not all of them are artists. Some are people I know, some of them are authors of books, some of them are anonymous, as their art inspires me and points the way, and some are no longer alive. Some kick my butt, some encourage me, some have made me made a huge leap (Mike, you know you’re one of those, eh?!), some stopped me form jumping into the abyss.

    I feel like Mike – I think the only person who can guide the way is the artist herself (OK, or himself, I’ll be generous here), and I’d rather learn from my own mistakes. But hey – it’s a bit of a futile argument, as inspiration and finding the way is a very individual thing.

  5. Mike,
    I’m so happy I found your blog! I’m a new oil painter, so I’m soaking up everything like a sponge!

    After learning and teaching quilting, this is such a new experience — one can use fabric and a pattern and make a replica of a quilt. I find myself hesitant to put my own “stamp” on my paintings. I know what I want it to look like, but haven’t acquired the knowledge yet.

    I’ve already learned so much from you — and I thank you!

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