Talent or Persistence

Morning in the Park, acrylic, 14" x 18"

Morning in the Park, acrylic, 14″ x 18″

August 12, 2013

I recently returned from a trip to Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho, with husband.  While he was attending a conference I enjoyed doing some plein air painting.  Fortunately, there was almost no wind so using a music stand for an easel worked well.  When husband’s clothes were put away in the closet and dresser, I packed my painting gear into his smaller suitcase on wheels and was ready to find a painting spot.  There was a large city park on a lake near our hotel so that’s where I went.

I set up near a walking and jogging path that bordered the lake.  Because of my location a number of people stopped to see what I was doing and make comments about the above painting.  The one I found most interesting was, “Oh, you are so talented.”  I don’t think so.  If I was, I would be more successful in terms of awards and sales.

I may not be talented, but I am persistent.  One cannot decide to be talented but one can decide to be persistent and that can result in some very rewarding experiences.  I was an art major in college.  But over the years after that I only sporadically took took art classes or found time to paint as child rearing, part time jobs, etc. took most of my time.

By the time the last part time job ended, my children were grown.  As I thought about what might come next, I decided that I would live like an artist.  And that has led to some very enjoyable experiences.  I’m a member of two art guilds and have met other artists,  I have occasionally taken art classes and have found places to display my work.  I’ve joined paintings groups.  I’ve gone on weeklong plein air painting trips.  Along the way my walls and those of my children and relatives display paintings of the beautiful places I’ve been. And sometimes even people I don’t know see my paintings on display and buy them.  By donating paintings to charity auctions I’m able to make a contribution to good causes.  Living like an artist can be a very good life but only if one is not focused on monetary rewards.

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Creativity Endures

January 24, 2013

I spent an interesting and productive morning recently with a group of very creative women.  We met in the walk out lower floor studio in the country home of one of our members.  We five are, with possibly one exception, all senior citizens and all have been creative artists of one kind or another for many years. 

Being older can present physical challenges in creating art.  But what amazes me about the older artists I know is that there is always a plan B or C, etc.  When one activity is no longer possible, another creative activity takes its place.  One woman used to be a very creative weaver.  But age can take strength and dexterity from one’s hands.  The looms are now gone from her studio.  She then switched to dying silk and creating beautiful silk scarves.  But now after a long illness she says that process is too long and tiring.

When we met at her studio we marveled at the beautiful nature photos that she has taken and used to make greeting cards.  In addition she showed us the valentines she has been making with a collage on the front of each featuring tiny pieces of painted silk, lace, etc.  They are truly works of art.

So we enjoyed each other’s company, each of us doing our own creative thing.  One woman was spinning alpaca yarn, another was preparing to begin a watercolor by applying mastic to the paper which she wanted to keep white.  Another, who arrived late, was looking through art magazines.

I had brought a 16″ x 12″ painting I had done in the fall that just did not quite work.   With me I brought the means to fix it, which involved removing the canvas from its stretchers, cutting off about the top third and then attaching what was left to 9″ x 12″ stretchers.  I made some minor changes to the painting and then framed it with an old frame from my stash which I stained to a darker color.  There were a few raised eyebrows when I started cutting up my painting, but they later agreed with me that its new look was much better.

We ended our morning with lunch while watching the birds at the bird feeder outside the window.   

 

To a Good Home

December 20, 2011

Two paintings  from years past have finally found a good home.   Someone who had seen my exhibit at the Lawrence Public Library stopped by because he wanted to see more.  I was happy to oblige.   It is not often that vintage paintings find a good home.  I tend to show the newer paintings more often while the older ones that have been shown many times and no one seems to want have the frames removed and are shunted to a back storage area.

My visitor wanted to see Kansas scenes, especially from the Lawrence area, and I have a lot of these.  He bought two, one 13 years old and the other 14 years old.  I have good memories of painting both of them outdoors, one in spring and one in autumn, in the company of a group of women I used to paint with.  My daughter suggested the site for the spring painting, an old barn on property owned by the local rugby team.  The autumn scene was painted at a rural plant farm.  I’m a city girl but I thought the aging piece of farm machinery looked picturesque so I included it in my painting.  Husband laughed about that.  “You’ve painted a manure spreader,” he said.  Who knew?

But I do think recording on canvas the way rural life used to be not only looks picturesque but has some historical value, especially for people who never experienced that way of life.  And the memories of painting in the open air on a beautiful day surrounded by friends are priceless.

Artist Wannabes

December 10, 2011

It happened again just a few days ago.  The woman sitting next to me in exercise class asked if I was still exhibiting and selling my paintings.  “Trying to,” I replied.  Then she said what I have heard many times before.  “I wish I knew how to paint.  It must be wonderful to be an artist.”  Yes, sometimes it is.  But I wondered just what she thought an artist does.  Our exercise leader was calling on us to lift our weights over our heads so I had no time to ask her.  But I thought about it later.

Does she picture me in a well-equipped studio standing in front of a canvas on my easel creating a masterpiece?  I paint inside mostly in cold or bad weather sitting in my bathroom.  In supposedly good weather I’m outdoors sometimes gripping the canvas with one hand to keep it from being blown away by the wind.  I’m picking tiny insects out of wet paint.  I’m painting as fast as I can because the light, shadows and cloud patterns keeps changing.

And when it comes to painting masterpieces, I remove quite a few painted canvases from their stretchers and throw them away, then attach new canvases and try again.  When I manage to paint something I really like I may enter it in an exhibit only to have it rejected.  Or when I do exhibit it, no one wants to buy it.  And I have often paid to have it in that exhibit.  Meanwhile one of the cooperative galleries where I exhibit is on shakey financial ground and is asking for additional donations from the artists.

In spite of all that I’m glad I chose to be an artist.  It is great to be outdoors trying to capture the wonders of nature.  I’ve learned to really see, which is the first step to being an artist who paints the way things look, sort of.  I’ve met so many other artists and enjoyed their work and their company.  And some people actually like my paintings enough to want to hang them in their homes or businesses.  Best of all, for many artists this is not something we need to retire from.  We make adjustments but we keep on painting.