Winter has returned with a vengeance around here and as I struggle in the studio with new pieces, I tend to look back at some of my favourite paintings. I can get frustrated with what I am doing and ask myself, why do I keep trying? That is usually a good time to go back and look at what made one painting or another so special to me.
The painting at the top of this post is called ‘Winter’s Return’. It was inspired by an accidental photograph of heavy snow clouds, hours before the first snowfall of the season in November 2005. I remember my enthusiasm when I brought the image up in Photoshop and I immediately knew it had to become a painting. I had been experimenting with new sky techniques in the month previous and saw the opportunity to try something completely new for me. My expectations were low and my passion was high. That painting was the result.
Painting can be a joyful experience and my best efforts are applied to what I am passionate about. The disasters or disappointments seem to follow when I am trying too hard or perhaps I am not ‘feeling’ my subject matter.
This past week, I know I have been trying too hard. The results ended up stiff, even though I captured a completely new light effect. I had to go back with a little less worry and be prepared to completely ruin it to give it a fighting chance. I think after letting go of the struggle, something of value emerged.
There is no question that I have been tripping over my own expectations!
Expectations are a killjoy…. And when the joy is gone, so is the life of a painting. I am currently reading Robert Genn’s book “Painter’s Keys” based on a series of seminars the artist gave in the 90’s. Genn talks about the child in the artist being the source of great art – because of their freedom to experience their subject and their observation skills. Children see with fresh eyes and are not worried about conformity! When we are less concerned with how people will view our results, we are free to experiment – to play!
So, play I shall!