Saturday, March 10, 2018

Don't Care

I've heard Wolf Kahn and others talk about the importance of "not caring" when painting, and while that seems to makes sense as a goal, I've always felt a little skeptical about how achievable it is in practice. You're putting everything you have into a painting—how can you not care?

Today, I grasped the flip side of that question for the first time: really, how can you care? Because if you care about whether your painting turns out well, you'll undercut yourself altogether. You have to try hard and give it all you have, but up to the very point that you decide to stop working on a painting, you shouldn't be looking at it as a potential success or failure, and you shouldn't want anything at all from it other than the opportunity to get out and paint.

If you're in it for the long haul, caring about the success of each painting is just too exhausting, and it inhibits growth. If you want to improve your skills—to grow, to explore—you have to feel free to do anything. To take any risk. And to do that, you can't care.

I'm probably able to see this for the first time now because it's harder than ever for me to find time to paint. So when I get a chance to, I have to use strategies that conserve energy, emotional energy above all. And if I use up emotional energy caring about the eventual "product" of my work, it's all too likely that on any given day, painting will seem too hard and too draining to attempt.

The only way to keep going, to keep making paintings and to continue to stay open to accident and the unexpected—which is critical to growth and to having fun—is to paint simply for the sake of it. If only one in a hundred paintings turns out to be something you'd want someone else to see, so be it. You'll still be painting.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Milkweed and Gold Field

11 x 11 inches, oil on board, 2015. Milkweed still standing in the warm winter field, or maybe dancing with the trees. 

$250 total (frame, shipping, and all taxes included).

Available Please click here for purchase information.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Err on the Side of Fun

I wish every painting would work, but it doesn’t of course, even when I pull out every stop and throw everything I have at it. I use lots of mental talk/tricks to create a state of mind where I feel free to risk, to try anything, even to ruin something good for the chance of making something better, often not knowing if that state of mind is even helpful in a particular circumstance. I’m almost always trying to push myself to go faster and not get stuck in one area; to make a mark and not look back; to work with joy.

That last—work with joy/do what’s fun—may be the best injunction. Sometimes you may be feeling: this is serious; I need to express grandeur/Beauty/respect/awe—and there’s a place for all those emotions/expressions in any painting. But I think playfulness/fun trumps them all in importance, because of the joy that is at the heart of fun—it’s powerful enough to overcome the inevitable frustration of trying to get something “right,” to lift your spirits through the moments of fatigue and difficulty, and to somehow let you participate in the beauty around you. Experiencing beauty IS joyful, beauty IS joy, so to work with joy is to use what’s flowing through you if you’re open to it (the beauty around you). It’s a “high,” and that spirit can be reflected in what you do—and to see that spirit reflected in paint also creates a “high.”

If you’re working and struggling, wondering how to save yourself and your painting or even how to approach something at all, err on the side of fun: go forward with a light heart and a sense of exploration/experimentation—not trying to get it right, but to play.

“Exuberance is beauty.” – William Blake

Friday, March 11, 2016

Dark Trees and Snow

11 x 11 inches, oil on board, 2016. Spooky trees looming as the snow melts and warm colors reappear. Please see my post from yesterday for a video of how it was painted.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Plein Air Painting Demo - Dark Trees and Snow

Beautiful day as the snow melted and the warm colors came back. Let me know what you think of the speed, captions, and music!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Cattails and Ice

10 x 12 inches, oil on board, 2016. This was the last of the ice on the pond—the next day it was gone. I loved the smoky color of the ice and the green reflections.

$250 total (frame, shipping, and all taxes included).

Available Please click here for purchase information.

Thursday, March 3, 2016