One of the most wonderful parts of teaching painting workshops is when you get to be in on a magical transformation. This past Saturday’s workshop participants, like so many other workshops, consisted of a mix of the never painted before, rusty haven’t painted in years, and experienced artists expanding their knowledge. I love the mix and I love to see people helping each other through stuck places.
All artists have stuck places. Sometimes we are stuck from fear of making a mistake. Sometimes we are stuck because we don’t know what the next step is. Sometimes we are overwhelmed. Sometimes we are comparing our work to someone else’s work, (always a bad idea). Whatever the reason, focusing on persistence and taking the next step forward is opening the opportunity for transformational magic to happen.
Such was the case with Kellie. We were painting tulips and Kellie’s tulip had a very large leaf that was proving to be difficult to paint. Her first efforts to capture the tulip truly looked like an upside-down rubber chicken. Kellie’s sunny personality had her laughing at herself while responding to the encouragement of her tablemates, Tracey and Augusta, and daughter Kelsie. She persisted in her painting despite her doubts.
At the end of every workshop, we have a discussion on what each person has created so we can steal tips from each other! We put them up in a row and comment on the attributes of each artwork. The object is to encourage and motivate each other as a group. During our display and discussion is when the amazing transformation was noted. As we moved down the line of paintings, before Kellie could finish her rubber chicken story, someone immediately noted how the chicken had become a beautiful hummingbird. And it had! We hadn’t seen it until the painting was up on display but there it was!! It was wonderful!
In Julia Cameron’s classic book, The Artist’s Way, she peppers each page with quotes and bits of wisdom from famous artists and others. One of my favorite’s is from Jackson Pollock who said, “The painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through.” Kellie’s rubber chicken was really a hummingbird. She just had to let it come through! Her persistence enabled the transformation!
Upcoming workshops at Watkins College of Art at Belmont University here.
How To Steal Like an Artist is an amazing witty little take on what we do as artists. It’s packed full of powerful bits of wisdom!
A special thank you to Amber Grantham for photography and invaluable assistance! A special thank you to Lynn Bryant for lending her artistic expertise!! Thank you to Pastor Brian Jackson for making this happen and creating the wonderful wall to display the paintings on!!