"A windy day on the Dart River bed"
One of the things I dislike when I am out painting is a strong wind – strong enough to buffett the canvas. Even strong enough to start blowing the brushes off the easel and into the long grass.
That happened just recently when my painter friend Richard Robinson and I went painting on what started out as a calm and sunny day, and ended up being a battle with the nor-wester. Having started though, you can't just scuttle off home!
The interesting thing is that having got over the difficulties of the day, I'm now enjoying the painting. I like the very wide landscape format that I decided to use - it's just a little different for me. I also like the loose brushstrokes – the sense of abandon about it. Probably brought about by the rush to get out of the unpleasant conditions!
Perhaps a good lesson to remember and apply to every painting – paint with freedom, abandon. Try to remember that it really doesn't matter. Your future isn't depending on that one painting!
To explain my heading – 'getting up-to-date'. Ive been told that many painters are now selling their teaching DVDs online – ready for instant download. With Richards help, we've now included that choice on my DVD page of this website. There is a brief trailer that you can watch first to see if the particular DVD will suit you, and if you decide that you would like it, it's much cheaper than buying the disc. And of course, you can download it immediately. Hopefully, they will be a great help in your painting.
The difficulties of getting started!
Over many years of teaching classes, I've often had people say to me,"How do you decide what you want to paint" or "How do you find beautiful subjects"? Sometimes people have told me that they have gone out looking but then can't make up their minds.
I understand their problem perfectly because for many years, I was asking myself the same questions as I burned petrol touring around looking for the perfect subject! I eventually learned that seeing a perfect subject is VERY rare, like looking for UFO's really (if there is such a thing).
However, if you're looking for good lighting or exciting colour or shadows or shapes that make a really interesting design, then there are subjects everywhere. Perhaps something dramatic, a sky like the one above or huge churning rollers at the coast. It all depends on the way you are looking at things. It can be any subject of course but it does need to be something you really want to do.
If you refer back to a my December blog (sorry Ive been so long getting on to this one!), you will read that after 42 years of painting, I still confront the same issue occasionally.
I suspect it also has a good deal to do with how often you are painting. I find that the more I paint, the more I see subjects all around me.
For example, I saw these amazing clouds over Queenstown just recently. I didn't have time to paint and it was too late for outdoor work anyway, but they were awe inspiring and definitely worth a photo. Very exciting!
I do paint from photos very occasionally. I remember when I was on the West Coast and at the end of the day saw amazing lighting at the top of Arthurs Pass. I took some photos as it was far too late to paint. Even though I was at the beginning of a South Island trip to do three weeks of painting around Queenstown, I couldn't wait to get home and paint that lighting that I had photographed.
That's the key.... excitement, awe, loving the colour, marvelling at the texture, seeing a beautiful design, enjoying the brushwork, having the confidence to put your mark on the work – your style....all those things that move us – stir us up.
Incidentally, that Arthurs Pass painting turned out well.
I guess all those qualities we would term enthusiasm - and you can't beat enthusiasm for adding persistence, strength to overcome the difficulties, and out of that, progress and skill.
Now... having proof-read this several times to correct my frequent typing errors, I'm convinced that I need to get out there and do some work.
Onward and upward!!