I recently had a thought provoking conversation with some art buddies about teaching. One friend who just finished a workshop said she had conducted a “paint along” with her students, that is to say they painted the same subject standing side by side. I had been thinking about that very exercise just that morning as I sat down to map out my 2020 mentoring program. I thought it would be fun and informative to stand together, painting the same thing, so that the students can see my process and immediately react to it on their own canvases. I think that would be a superb way to keep everyone in the moment and having fun.
That said, the friend went on to say her students conveyed they appreciate a subject being selected for them so they don’t have to wander around wondering what to paint. That is a valid point! That initial selection of subject and designing of the painting can be overwhelming, and it can be exponentially harder when painting outdoors. Combine that with low “mileage” and the whole thing can seem like a big chore.
But it got me wondering…how can we expect people to connect with our paintings if we do not take the time to connect with them ourselves?
I realize that is pretty deep. We want to have fun out there….what’s all this connecting stuff, and for that matter when is cocktail hour? Seriously though, I am on a mission to help folks find joy in every minute of the painting process, including a thoughtful start. Easily said, but HOW do you do that? I have developed steps to do so in my own process, and am finding it helps remove the “fear factor” that many have when painting outside (and in the studio!). In a way, it means slowing down so that you can speed up.
I touch on these steps in my latest video, “A Painter’s Journey”, and in my workshops I have had fun teaching these steps and watching lightbulbs go off. A little time investment can pay off big time. You will become more in sync and familiar with your subject, and that will translate into confidence with paint. You will feel more at ease and joyful, and in my humble opinion, that shines through in the finished product.
“Think like turtle, paint like rabbit.” ~Sergei Bongart