Category Archives: Mind and Body

Bumps along the way

What we (I) think is so fascinating in our painting journey and its creative process is the difference between beginning this creative endeavor, plein air oil painting, and other creative things that we have done in the past.  Take for example, knitting. When one  first learns to cast on and make a, oh, I don’t know, a square dish cloth, and the stitches are not even or the lines straight, no one said, “Uh, you really should not be a knitter.”  Or when we were first learning to cook, folks didn’t say, ” Ummm, cooking – really not your thing.”

It is different for some reason when you share a painting. I’m not sure if it is because of the museum type experience where art is to be critiqued  and judged at first glance either ” I like it or I don’t like it”, or if there is little leeway for “critics” to understand learning and improving as one goes on.

This has been my experience as a beginning painter, and one that I wasn’t really prepared for.  I think this is really important to understand if you take up oil painting.   Be prepared or prepare yourself for those words that could possibly temporarily derail  you in your oil painting journey.

We have found several things that work for us  to counteract the unintended or intended criticism of a beginning artist.   The first is laughter.   Really, really important.  Every time we go out,  Catherine and I usually have a good laugh at some aspect of our work:  either the easel falls over,   an aspect of the painting appears to be painted on by a deranged person ( how does that happen??) or  just  laughing at the pure joy of being able to be outside and believe that it is possible to capture some of the beauty around us.

Another technique that works for me is to find a painting buddy or another person who may not want to paint, but could go out and read, or knit! with you.   The camaraderie and collaboration with another is really important to keep the spirit of patience and practice alive.

And finally, always, always find something in your work, even if it is  2 inch square that you like and focus on that .

Just Show Up

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After spin class – Burn Cycle – Portland, OR

It seems that I older I get, the more important it is to continue to stretch my level of discomfort. To me, sometimes that means just showing up.  I did my first sprint triathlon last year at Nantasket Beach.    As I am writing this a year later, I cannot remember what prompted me to sign up for it, I think perhaps it was my yoga instructor.  Anyhow, the point is that the older I get the more it is about not waiting and just showing up.   I did train for that first one and I continue to swim a mile every other day and we run on the beach for two miles.  BUT, I never really was that person in my youth.  Now as time is of the essence, I just sign up and  show up on the beach every morning, or take a training swim class, or go with my daughter to this REALLY hard spinning class (see photo). This photo symbolizes that philosophy.  My daughter lives in Portland and works out religiously at a spinning studio, BurnCycle.  She is really strong as is her fiance and they are both in great shape.  SOOOO, they always ask me to join their workouts and I do.  It is really hard and I can’t stand and cycle as long as they do, but I feel so good afterwards – and this practice of showing up has served me well so far.

-Britt