I recently attended my critique group, a safe place where I bring in a painting and give other artistic eyes permission to evaluate my composition, values, and completion. Half of the group attended a three day workshop and brought in work, but it’s the discussions that are still are on my mind that lead me into the story of this newsletter.
Workshops are popular with all artists…. writers, painters, or performers… as they teach technique and offer growth opportunities. It was explained that the instructor directed participants through intense and rapid sequences of mark making, changes in pigment, using non-dominant hand and timed sketches. Each day began with this exercise then focused on completing a specified goal of either floral, abstract, or figure.
I listened as each participating artist felt pushed beyond their authenticity. They described exhaustion, frustrations, and confusion as one said, “I finally just needed to paint what was right for me” and another added, “It was interesting but I needed to see and paint beauty.” The third participant actively enjoyed the chaos and brought to the group multiple pieces she had completed after the workshop.
Creating my art is a solo experience so interacting and listening to art maker’s stories tends to grow my awareness and allows me to think bigger perspectives. Each artist develops a specifically clear expression of oneself. It is also well known that unspecified times after workshops such as this one, can inspire an artistic question leading to thoughts and experimental action. I’ll be interested to hear and watch for this at future critique groups.
I myself, have sought out instruction in basic techniques, starting with oil painting. I was 24 years old! Yikes! Want to see how I’ve grown through patience, perseverance, and good teachers? OK…this might be fun to show some early work. I enjoyed working with oils as a beginner because if I didn’t like something I could scrape it off and start over. Eventually the solvents needed to clean brushes bothered me and I started to focus more on drawing. A year at Marylhurst in various drawing classes helped me ‘to see’ better as an artist. To look and observe, to see beyond the obvious.
I had not yet embraced the importance of Values but enjoyed moving pigments and water around in shapes.
Much better value and more focus on shapes, values, and a limited palette. Slightly abstracted and softly bold.
Watercolors were introduced to me at the ripe old age of 33. I started keeping files of my paintings so you can see the changes. I’m delighted to tell you that my best teachers during this phase were: my mistakes. Lots of them. There were no YouTube channels to watch…just good old fashioned art books so I bought, studied, tried to replicate the exercises and had enough good experiences to continue. Years later I would meet an instructor who would turn into a dear painting, sushi, mentor, and support friend… as I grew myself. We started the critique group and continue to learn.
About 10 years ago I signed up for a 4 day mentorship intensive with a well known Californian artist. I arrived with my intention and supplies and he took my watercolors away and told me to paint with acrylics. I didn’t know anything about acrylics. So… I did. I felt exhausted, frustrated and confused but worked with what I did know…values (darks, mid tones, and lights). One artist working in collage had fashion magazines so I borrowed one and painted faceless models, with attitudes. I keep these in my studio as a reminder of how courageous I am.
Today I am painting in acrylics and transitioning to large canvases. I hike in Oregon’s gorgeous nature and many times experience a place with such positivity I am inclined to paint it. My landscapes make me smile with good feelings, remembering the joy and timelessness of my painting process. I enjoy sharing my monthly newsletter stories. Perhaps you would find nature’s calm makes you smile too.
Live your life courageously!
Make sure to check out all my new Small Space acrylic paintings and larger canvases too.
It's been a busy year so far as I plan, paint, and prepare for a popular artist’s group exhibition. Every April we bring in our new work from the prior winter…in this case, the previous two covid years! A lot of creating took place during that time.
The last couple of days I’ve been constructing the grids where the 25 participating artists will hang their work for the show and sale. I have been involved in this artistic collective for several years, but the Lake Area Artists have been showing and selling art for 42 years in the same location in Lake Oswego! Every year our efforts and talent brings in many returning collectors, new businesses choosing fine art to enhance their spaces, and recently, an increase in millennials making their first purchases. Of course, we artists appreciate support from our community.
Wednesday we set up the room with grids, tables, and assure an easy flow through the gallery. I am in charge of this part of our show. Thursday we all experience a controlled frenzy as artists bring in and set up their work in their designated spaces. Two full days just getting everything ready. And Friday 10am we opened our doors and invited those waiting to enter…. the beginning of our long awaited weekend.
I stay there during the entire weekend to help when needed, wander and appreciate all my friend’s new art and techniques, but mainly stay close to my work and talk to those interested in how I spend my life’s energy… creating.
Last evening, Friday, during the Artist’s Reception a couple stopped to view my Small Space Collection of acrylic landscape paintings. I approached and introduced myself and the gentleman asked me to tell them about my painting process. From all the marketing tools I have studied I know I should have specific answers available…but my brain and soul does not work like that. Instead I asked them specifically what they were interested in knowing. He asked, “Tell us about your painting frustrations and how you resolve those conflicts in your mind and on your canvas”. I felt like fresh air was gently blown into the room at that moment. Authenticity and vulnerability co-mingled inside me …and my heart opened. I discussed my process and told them I had much knowledge, more guts than brains, and had already experienced the fear of mistakes many times over. This powerful recipe allowed me to fail at my objective, step back and take time to evaluate, plan, and integrate a different approach, then evaluate and alter again. I was not a perfect painter. I valued patience, learning, and unexpected outcomes.
That was one of many discussions I had with collectors, art appreciators, and those coming in to look at fine art (and sip complimentary wine) as their mental health break.
So, my friends, my story is out. I’m a confidant painter…and I have moments (or days) of doubt and perplexity. Many times I just go out for a walk and air myself out. My paintings always looks manageable (and better) when I look at them with fresh eyes the next day.
Hmmm… this reminds me of….Life.
Hi...I'm Patrice... an acrylic painter who writes, and enjoys sharing how I create and think.