Painting ishfully outside my comfort zone


I hesitate to put myself in the same sentence as Pablo Picasso and art, but today I learned the truth in his words: One never knows what one is going to do. One starts a painting and then it becomes something quite different.

The lesson came in a two hour class under the guidance of Invercargill artist Karen Pringle . She supplied the would-be artists with a black canvas and a pencil and told us to draw the stones in a photo. She then showed us how to make them appear three dimensional using colour to produce light and shade.

If Henry Beecher Ward was correct when he said, Every artist dips his brush into his own soul and paints his own nature into his pictures, then the 10 of us in the class have very different natures because although we started with the same materials and followed the same instructions, a couple of hours later we’d produced 10 very different paintings. There was an avalanche, a birds-eye view and a cross section; the stones in one glistened as if under water, in another they seemed to be suspended; one artist had used colour and texture so her stones were like shist, another’s had shell-like spirals; a couple had stones tumbling over the whole canvas, one had contained hers in a small square.

Until today I would have applied Eyeore’s philosophy to painting and me: We can’t all and some of us don’t. Thanks to Karen’s guidence, I now think I can because I did – not brilliantly, but at least adequately and in spite of my fears, because anything requiring fine motor skills is well outside my comfort zone, I thorougly enjoyed doing it.

Perhaps it was because as Edgar Degas said,  Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do. Or maybe it’s because I’ve learned from Peter H Reynolds, the author of Dot  and Ish. *

The first book shows that if we allow ourselves to try we can all make our own mark; the latter tells us that what we do doesn’t always have to be just right; and that allows me to take pleasure in my painting even if  what it depicts is more “stoneish” than stone.

* Dot and Ish, are written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds and published by Walker Books.

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