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Friday, December 11, 2015

Letting Go of Stuff and Fear

'Fire and Ice'        12 x 24        pastel          ©Karen Margulis
available $450
Sometimes the it is time to just let go. I have been doing a lot of that this week as I clean and organize my studio spaces. Unused equipment, duplicate books, piles of knick knacks and things just collecting dust. There are paintings too. I usually don't get attached to a painting....I'd rather they have a good home. This painting of Bryce Canyon is an exception. It hung over my desk for a couple of years now. But it is time for it to have a new home.  Here is the original blog post written about the painting:

 It's Only Paper
I once got the nicest compliment from a fellow artist. She said to me "You paint with so much confidence. It's like you aren't afraid!"  And she was right. I'm not afraid ...usually. Because I know it is only a piece of paper.  But sometimes I have to remind myself. Sometimes I have to convince myself to try something because I have nothing to lose but a little of my time and a piece of paper.

Take today's painting of Bryce Canyon in the snow. My husband and I took a Winter trip to the Southwest  several years ago before I started painting. We had snow the entire adventure. We even got snowed in at the Grand Canyon!  But the snow turned the landscape into a a magical wonderland. The red rocks covered in snow was a sight to see.  I took photos. But I haven't had the nerve to paint them. How could I possible capture the beauty I experienced?

close up of'  Fire and Ice'

The other day I was flipping through my winter photos and the one of Bryce in the snow caught my eye. Should I try to paint this? Dare I give it a go?  I had been avoiding it for years never feeling capable enough (sound familiar?) But This time it was different.

I had given up my fear of failure. What did it matter if the painting didn't turn out? Who would even know besides the dog? And who would care. Not the dog.  It is only paper and if I din't like it I could brush it out, spray it or do any number of things to play with it.  The most important thing is that I tried and that I had fun doing it.

So I put on some Native American flute music to get me in the mood. I cut a long narrow piece of paper. (the scale of it doesn't read well on the blog) I chose to do an oil stain underpainting. I let it dry and kept on painting. At some point I realized I had finished. I was so involved that I had lost track of time. Sure, there were things that needed fixing but I felt a sense of accomplishment that I didn't let fear stop me from painting.

'Bryce Canyon Snow'      5x7    pastel
Sometimes you have to trick yourself into believing that you are confident.....that you CAN paint. Sometimes you just have to throw caution to the wind and just do it..... after all it is only paper!

1 comment:

robertsloan2art said...

That's the greatest thing about painting. There is nothing to fear, only the adventure of finding out what happens.

I get that same comment sometimes, that I paint boldly or with confidence. It's that I'm lost in what I'm doing. If I want to do something and don't think I'll get it right, don't know yet if I can do that, I'll work my way up to it. More often than not it turns out that what I needed to do it was something logistic like enough time to do a slow and careful process. Or enough body energy to do something larger.

But sometimes it's a subject I have never done well, tried and never really got it. I hesitate to even call them failures because each time I tackle something hard, like a waterfall used o be, or a cat's anatomy, or a dinosaur - my results are better than the last time I had a go. So I'm all stoked about it and know I've improved.

Someday I'll do the big James Gurney-like grand dinosaur painting I've wanted to do all my life. It may happen sooner now that I'll have the studio space to prep the way James Gurney does and make a realistic little sculpture to paint from! But with or without model building I get closer to it all the time and aspects of it like "tropical foliage" become easier in little studies.

I think of that as the slow rambling way to success. But a bad sketch isn't some disaster. A bad page in my art journal is just "Yeah that was a bad day." Odds are it's still better than last year's bad sketch. I don't worry about failure at all - because so many of my best successes started out as something else and I did a change of direction to make it work. Mistakes are more a part of process than anything else!

Oh gee, I splashed watercolor outside the pen lines. Well, I can make that look deliberate by doing it again in other areas. Oh cool now the whole painting looks loose and painterly. No one would notice that one splash was an actual "I didn't mean to do that" mistake!

I might even forget in my happiness at the finished result.

Fear of failure is a mental construct, a story people tell themselves because school wraps so much into grading and drums in that getting an F on Anything is totally humiliating. But I'm the boy that got F's in Gym. Nobody flunks Gym. I've got nothing to lose!