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I believe that art enriches and informs our lives everyday in many positive ways. Sharing those experiences, whether as an artist or as an appreciator, is part of the pleasure. I welcome your comments and hope you find something of value: a laugh, an insight, a new idea or just a happy moment. Enjoy art!

Friday, September 19, 2014

What I Learned in Play

 "Everything I Need to Know...I Learned in Kindergarten" was a tongue in cheek book but loaded with wisdom.  I decided in that same spirit to make a list of everything I am learning by painting with an abstract surface that evolves from "play."  I was surprised at the list, here is a share:

LOOSEN UP BABY!  a dear friend made the astute observation that in recent years one of my personal goals was to be more flexible and spontaneous with my schedule.  Ouch...the pain of practice but oh, the joy of the results.  She pointed out that this exercise was no different.  Either way I was giving up control (perceived or imagined) and letting the flow carry me along.

UGLY CAN BE MADE BEAUTIFUL!  This is not a quick process, while the beginning play doesn't seem to take much time, making the silk purse certainly does.  Sometimes I think the play part is so ugly I want to trash it.  But.  Still.  Stick with it, problem solve, define the possible options and pursue one carefully.

OBSERVATION IS CRITICAL TO SUCCESS! Ever gotten somewhere and realized you did not see half the things your traveling partner did?  A keen, observing eye is important when translating the play into a recognizable thing.  Since much is painted out of your head (from memory) you have no backup other than your brain on how a root hits the ground or a road turns a corner.  Making mental notes is a prerequisite if you are to paint believably.  Observe and observe and observe.

FREEDOM IS A WONDERFUL THING!  Painters are often slaves to the photograph, terrified to move a tree or change its size.  But photos don't always offer great compositions.  I have a blank slate here, nothing to refer to means I can build a barn or insert a river where ever Mother Cindy decides.  Wowee Zowee......

SLOW DOWN, SMELL SOME ROSES!  Another reason this style of painting takes a while is that many, many decisions have to be made and the fewer strokes of the brush you use to make them the more interesting the final product becomes.  I want to leave some of this delightful "play" for the viewer to experience, but how I do that takes time and effort.  Never a bad thing to slow down, think, muse, contemplate alternatives.  It's not a race; it is a process albeit a sloooow process.

LEARN (COLOR) CHEMISTRY!  Unless I take copious notes in my prep/play time (and that would spoil the play no?) I now have to go back and reproduce the colors and hues I used to start the piece.  While this takes patience it also takes a learning eye for color mixing.  Like when bakers know the cake needs more baking powder or less flour, I have to be able to look at a color and know not only what it was made from but how much of each...or at least a way to get there.  Eighty percent of the time is spent in color mixing...even for a "little dab."  The better my eye gets the faster it will be....the yummiest colors are never those that just pop out of the tube (sorry Mr.s Winsor and Newton).

It's not a bad list...for painting or for life.  In fact, the list drives home to me how much I can gain from this process regardless of the art I choose to do.  I'll be sticking with it for a bit...maybe morphing it into my own brand of beginning and seeing where it takes me.  I don't know what path you are pursuing right now but if it is a struggle try making a list of how far you have come already, it really helps you see the progress.

Enjoy your weekend, slow down and observe something new!




  1. thanks, Cindy! Especially important one about color. I've made numerous different color palettes in Richard Schmid's color swatch exercise. Ring-bound and labled, at an arm's length away. Instant formula...and my eye got sorely needed training at the same time!

  2. Yep, Vicki, those training exercises sure do prove their worth! Sometimes I have to be threatened to do them but I am always glad I did.


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