“The Show” is up, finally!
Thanks to a good friend’s assistance, on Sunday March 1st we hung up 25 paintings, evenly spaced, along a 49′ wall. It was a very long year of learning a new approach that was both difficult and exciting, while at the same time feeling that nagging pressure to create ‘wall-worthy’ paintings. I was well pleased by the time the show opened. The reception from 1pm-3pm was a mob scene for most of it, which I can only take partial credit for because it was also “Kids Eat For Free Sunday” at this very popular Main Street eatery. Hungry for Beauty? Hungry for Tacos? We have it all!
Then Monday arrived and thanks to good planning and self-knowledge, I was able to enjoy a restful day with no fear of The Day After Crash that has so often happened in the past.
You need a Simmering Pot
Sure, reaching a goal feels great, but I have learned the hard way that if I don’t have a couple bright ideas simmering on the back burner, I will find myself in full-blown disorientation at the end of a big project. That is why I always have a simmering pot of ‘What Next Stew’ on the mental stove, to stir through when I am ready to start The Next Thing(s). Here they are, two simultaneously this time.
1) A sketching handbook.
The world does not need yet another book on sketching, give me a break! I know, I know. But I’ve decided that all those lesson plans I created and used for three years at my local art school deserve to have another life, rather than simply dying on my computer hard-drive. So, I am going to learn what I have to learn about On-Demand Publishing so I can create a very small, very inexpensive booklet of “Sketching Shorthand For Those Who Are Too Impatient To Read A Whole Book On Sketching.” That title may well be longer than the book, we shall see! It will be a good experience for me to simply organize the book, design the illustrations, and also learn about self-publishing, something I will need later for my Big Project that I am not talking about yet….
2) Learning to Draw What I Always Avoid Drawing
I confess, there are a few things I have avoided drawing (like people, animals, etc.) simply because I’m no good at it. By avoiding it, I can ensure I will never be good at it! Therefore, I picked one nemesis to start with: Complex Architecture. I love looking at buildings that are either very ornate or are quite tumbled down, anything from cathedrals to tool sheds. I really want to study this seriously because it is so frustrating when 90% of a drawing/painting looks fresh and confident, but the buildings look belabored and tight. Thus, my latest textbook purchase: “Architecture: Super-quick Techniques for Amazing Drawings” by Liz Steel.
Notice I called it a ‘textbook’: that is an attitude, a decision on my part. Real learning does not happen by osmosis, nor by buying a book, flipping through it, and exclaiming at all the pretty pictures. (Not that I haven’t done that a zillion times, I have.) The text part of a book is there for a reason. I want to benefit from every bit of work the author put into it.
So that’s my two-pronged Next Project. While I work in a word document creating my handbook, I will also keep my palette and brushes wet with learning the shorthand of drawing and painting architecture. There are several very ornate buildings within walking distance of my home here in New Hampshire’s capital city, so I have free models galore.
As soon as this darned worldwide virus has run its course, I shall be armed with a whole new set of drawing skills, fully prepared to sign up with my favorite touring company, Road Scholar, and I will book my trip to Oxford, England. In the meantime, I’ll simply watch Inspector Morse and Endeavour, and hit the pause button often as I sketch Oxford from afar.
Essential for Artistic Success: Your Tribe
I’ve heard that ‘too many cooks can spoil the broth’ but in the case of Creativity Stew-Pots, you need all the chefs you can find. An insight came to me out of the blue last month:
I need people in my life who love what I love, as much as I need people in my life who love me.
Read that sentence again. The people who love me, who also don’t give two hoots about sketching or watercolor, innocently don’t know how to feed my creative soul. My watercolor friends do. This is not to discount anyone’s friendship, not at all, but you see, having artist friends and non-artist friends is a bit like being bilingual. I can live in another country if I know the language, but when suddenly I hear my native tongue, the language of my heart, I exhale all the way. When I am hanging out with other watercolorists, we instantly know something quite rare about each other. We coo and sigh over the latest sable brush, or gear satchel, or gasp over the exquisite color of the late afternoon shadows, in ways that make our families roll their eyes and smile indulgently. No matter. I need and want both tribes. Without my artist tribe, I am stuck refilling my own well all alone, every single time, and I get tired. Eventually I run the risk of abandoning the very activity that, for me, makes life worth living. Then I’m no good for anyone.
So that’s it for now. The cafe where I am writing this is about to close so time to pack up.
Remember to add these Two Important Tools to your already marvelous Art Toolkit as soon as you can:
1- Gather a stew-pot of simmering ideas
2- Identify your artist friends, online or in-person, and find ways to have exciting, regular contact, to everyone’s benefit.
P.S.: to visit the show, go to Dos Amigos, 26 North Main Street in Concord NH between now and the end of March 2020. The sooner the better, some paintings leave when they are purchased!