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 .