No Where Near Being a Master

Every time I paint, I paint a masterpiece. It’s true. I am completely in love with most of my paintings as I’m painting one and right after I finish it. Then, with few exceptions, I’m not in love with it any more. Sometimes I’m on to the next one, sometimes not.

Maybe the reason I’m not a “master” is because I never got serious about painting. The pity there is that I’m not good at a lot of things and I approach the surface not knowing what’s going to happen. Maybe no artist knows what’s going to happen.

There’s a wildlife artist whose work I like very much, Greg Beecham. His work is amazing. He offers lessons — I’d like to learn some things about his technique. I’m pretty sure he uses glazes, something I’d like to try, but haven’t figured out. I watched a segment of one of his lessons and what intrigued me wasn’t him, what he was saying, or how he was painting, but how he’d literally drawn everything onto the painting surface somehow. It resembled the surface of a paint-by-number kit from back in the day.

When I approach the surface, it’s with colored pencils. Depending on the painting I’m imagining, I might have a small version in water color like this one for a BIG painting I started two years ago and that now overwhelms me. Usually I just block in main areas of color and that’s it for “drawing.”

Sometimes I draw elements of the painting and then take my painting from the drawing, but I don’t normally draw much on the painting surface. In my mind there’s a difference between a drawing and a painting. I think most artists have their ‘approach.”

I drew this painting on an envelope at a conference. There are a lot of strange things in this painting. First, I painted it in California but it is a painting of the San Luis Valley down to the contour line of the San Juans as you see them from the 160 between Monte Vista and Alamosa, pure accident. Second, it was inspired by the stranger than fiction tale of having written about my own family in Savior without knowing it at the time. When I did genealogical research later and discovered that, I realized that all I’m ever going to find as a writer is something about myself and the entire planet is an immense graveyard of bones and stories.

I integrated a quotation from Goethe as the bottom strata of the land where “I” am digging. It says: “How all in a single whole doth weave, one in the other works and lives.” This painting hangs in my living room along with another that is more mysterious, even to me.

The World is Out There

I didn’t fully understand this painting until I’d lived here for a year. I painted it in California few years before I moved. It began as a painting for my stepson and his wife, a street scene of New York I started in oils and realized it would be better as a watercolor. Quite a distance from one to the other…

My paintings — for me — fall into two categories. Personal paintings and landscapes. Only one landscape has crossed the line a little bit.

I don’t have — for myself — an identity as an artist. It would take more painting for me to figure that out. Mostly I experiment and play.

In school, I got encouragement from some teachers and outright discouragement from others. Over the course of my life, what this gave me was freedom. I didn’t even try to make a living as an artist. I didn’t believe I could, I understood the competition and the difficulty, and art went into the “garage,” the “shed,” and now the back room. It’s good that it did. Most of us are not going to be “great artists.” I’ve had some work hang in juried shows and sold most of my bigger paintings which is good because they take up space, but I think the best I can do is enjoy painting.

20 thoughts on “No Where Near Being a Master

  1. That is the best any of us can do, is to let ourselves enjoy something in our lives in spite of everything (and everyone) else.

    • I hardly ever feel like I could do better. Everything else in my life has been subject to my intense scrutiny and self-criticism. I decided some time ago (and it’s different for you because you’re really an artist) that I wasn’t going to look at my paintings that way. There are plenty of other people out there to do that for me.

  2. Her work is beautiful. I love yours. The style, the depth the quality I see. Art is a personal thing for sure but then so is writing or anything else. You certainly have a bounty of beauty from which to chose! 🙂

  3. There are some things you do for money and some you do for the enjoyment of it, or because you want to share. Writing is very much that way — I enjoy writing and crafting stories but I’ll never do the kind of work it takes to be a financial success.”

  4. I love your paintings. The end result is not dependent on the technique alone but the “eye” of the painter… My mother encouraged my art (mostly drawing and painting) and thought I should pursue it as a career. I was too afraid that I’d starve. I’m happy that I don’t have any pressure to produce art – that would take the fun out of it!!

    • I agree. I’m grateful my mom discouraged me. I’m so strong willed I’d have pressed on until I didn’t love it anymore. She didn’t encourage my teaching, either, but I could earn a living with that for sure. 🙂

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