I’m looking at potentially reduced hours in coming quarters. I’m made a promise to myself: I will not use those extra hours to play. My temptation is to simply start climbing even more than I already do. A better plan is to use this extra time to develop a long ignored talent. To that end, I’ve started painting in my spare time. So far, I’ve got 8 hours in a Nisqually landscape, over two different days, and 3 hours into a portrait of dad.
What is unusual is that I’m doing it after work. Last night I got down to the Nisqually delta around 5-ish. I hiked out to my viewpoint, set up my easel, and painted for two hours until the light changed. But even better, I was able to get into that mindset where the painting doesn’t matter as much as the experience. In other words, I was having so much fun being “in the zone”, that the end product really doesn’t even matter.
I’m truly scared to look at the painting. Other hikers were telling me it was great…and I thought it was pretty good, but if I look at it now in the cold light of day, and it sucks…does that take away from the great experience of creating it?
That is the perpetual artist dilemma. We like making art, but it may not ever sell. Fortunately, I have a day job that pays the bills, for now at least, and my art does not have to sell. My plan is to simply have fun making art…a lot of art…and hope that I gradually get better. It comes down to practice, assuming you have some baseline skills, talent and training.
But man, I was having so much fun out there at my lonely easel in the evening light! Being a painter is a real gift, I feel so fortunate to be able to paint. And no, I’m not going to post the painting until some time has passed. I want to savor the experience in my mind for a while. As long as I don’t actually look at the painting, I can remember it as a masterpiece. It’s sort of like acting and feeling as if I am still in my thirties. If I look in the mirror, I will see a white haired geezer looking back at me. Best not to look.
I met a famous watercolor painter once at a large gallery . He was so big he had a TV show. I was still working as a bluecollar printer back them. I was considering going back to college to pursue a fine arts degree, and I asked him if that was my ticket to success as an artist. Here is his response:
“The last thing you need to do is go to college. To become a successful artist, here is what you need to do: Paint 5000 paintings from life. Don’t paint from photos, ever. Always work from life. Nature, and trial and error will teach you everything you need to know. By the end of those 5000 paintings you will be living on your art.”