Enjoy the Struggle

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I have paint imbedded in my fingernails. Comes from trying to paint with a string covered in watercolor paint. Why, you may ask? If you are an adventurous watercolorist, you know why. Because you want to try something new, achieve an effect that you saw somewhere, but have no idea how it was done. So you analyze, and study. It wasn’t a brush or a rule or a palette knife – no details are forthcoming from the artist, who may or may not be around to ask, so you play. Paper may get tossed, and certainly you’ve dumped a ton of paint around in various shapes. The wind comes along and gives you a new effect, but alas, it can’t be counted on. I paint outside for the most part, more of necessity in finding space, but plein aire painters get interesting adds to their work; bird droppings, leaves, fast showers.

The vertical landscape you were working on morphs into something else. The hill becomes the sea, and sea a cloud and as you flip it on its side, you see that the paint spoke for you and made a completely different painting than the one you thought you were going to do.  One that is much more interesting than what our mundane minds set out to do.

How many more landscapes do we need in the world of orderly nature, with everything in its place, according to some photograph we snapped one day from the car window? We need to put down the camera and open our eyes, and close our minds, and see form and shadow and scary things that we shouldn’t paint at all. Let a mood suggest a painting or a television show or a child.

Do you want to be tagged? Do you want people to say, oh yes, I know so-and-so, and they paint “blah”. Insert triteness here. Known for your flowers, paint nude sunbathers for awhile. Known for your pretty little seascapes, paint monsters for a week.

“Be a warhorse for work, and enjoy even the struggle against defeat. Keep painting…. Don’t believe sitting in an art school and patiently patting paint on canvas will make you an artist. There is more to it than that.” Robert Henri