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Monday, December 31, 2018

Here is my Instagram Top Nine and Some Deep Thoughts!

My Instagram Top Nine #TopNine2018

Today as I sit at my newly cleaned desk and drink my coffee I am feeling reflective. I went to bed confused. What goals should I have for 2019? Should I have any goals? I have been reading so many thoughts on goal setting for the New Year that it was becoming confusing.  I woke up with newfound clarity.  I have decided how I will approach my Art Life in 2019. I will share that tomorrow. Today it is time to savor the accomplishments and the good things from 2018.
Looking back at my Art Year always makes me think about my own personal journey with pastels. When I saw my Instagram Top Nine something became crystal clear. The seeds for my growth as an artist were planted when I first started painting 13 years ago. I didn't  see it then but others did. 
Look at the paintings in the photo above. These paintings got the most interaction on my Instagram account. Do you notice something about them (besides that they are mostly yellow!) ?  They are Trees, Woods and Meadows. These are things I never dreamed I would paint. When I first started painting, my subject of choice were animals and beach related still life. Never trees or landscapes! But I had the chance to attend a 5 day workshop with Albert Handell because he was in the area (even though I had only been painting for 6 months.) Much of the instruction was over my head. But I learned two very important things. 
  • We can only absorb and understand what we are ready for. I wanted it all right away. I wanted to paint like Albert or even some of the other students. I wanted to understand everything. But I wasn't ready. I needed to understand the basics of value, color, edges, composition...and I needed much practice before some of the more advanced concepts within those basics became clear. Fortunately I wasn't defeated. Instead I was motivated and energized to put in the time at the easel to master the basics. I am still learning but I am happy to say that it definitely got easier and those AHA moments were so sweet when they came.

  • Paint the Things You Love. When I first started painting, I painted animals and still life. I love animals but I didn't really like painting them! Back to the Handell the end of the workshop we had an individual critique. We could share work done at home and at the workshop which was plain air in North Georgia (trees)  Albert looked at my work and very bluntly told me I should stop painting 'Ducks and shells'. He pointed to my plein air woodland paintings from the workshop and told me to concentrate on this type of subject.....trees, woods, nature.  I left the workshop indignant. How dare he tell me what to paint!  But I noticed that  as the time went on I was drawn more and more to the landscape. I enjoyed painting them and my work got better. I had another AHA moment about subject matter at a workshop years later with Stan Sperlak. That is when I embraced painting 'weeds'.  Looking back I realize that both Albert and Stan were right and they saw things in my work that I didn't passion for the landscape which translated into stronger paintings. Our choice of subjects matter!Paint what you are passionate about so that you own authentic voice can emerge!

Take time today to look back at your Art Year. What did you paint?  What was successful? What did you struggle with? Did you paint your passion? Do you have a top nine? What goals do you have for 2019? This post originally was created for my Patreon Page. I want to invite you to join us over on Patreon if you haven't already. I am planning a fantastic year of instruction and inspiration and it is only $4 each month. It really is a great value for your Art Life!

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