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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Vancouver Opening

Degrees of Expression
October 29th - November 11th, 2012

I'm in a group show with some of my fabulous painting friends that opens tonight on Granville Island in Vancouver. The work is a diverse group of over 90 paintings by some very talented artists.

Please drop by to say hi between 6 and 9pm tonight if you can make it, would love to see you there! If you can't come tonight, the show runs until November 11th at the FCA Gallery.

The artists in the show are Sarah Kidner, Jean Pederson, Gaye Adams, Suzanne Northcott and Janice Robertson.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Developing the Skill of "Confusion Endurance"

"Eggplant and Lemons"- workshop demo - 6x8" (sold)

Robert Genn just wrote a great post on perfectionism, and how we are unique in our ability to either use it to our advantage (adaptive) or let it wreak havoc in our painting lives (maladaptive).  Check out his post - he offers up some great tips for addressing the issue.

Confusion Endurance - What It Is

His post has prompted me to write about a topic I have been contemplating for a while now. I recently read a book called "How to Think Like Leonardo DaVinci". In it the author states that all successful creative people have one thing in common, something that DaVinci had in spades: it's the quality of confusion endurance. LOVE this term, it is absolutely brilliant and it is something every artist can benefit from developing further.

Confusion endurance is the ability to get curious and roll up your sleeves when presented with a problem to which the solution is not readily apparent, as opposed to avoiding, procrastinating, getting anxious or just plain shutting down in the face of confusion.

How Confusion Gets in Our Way

From both personal experience, and what I have observed cropping up in the painting world of most of my clients, I feel I can safely declare this to be the number one reason for a lack of flow and momentum in our studio work.

I believe the need to check email, surf the web, put on a load of laundry, take the dog for a third walk in the middle of our painting day (or perhaps as a means of delaying getting started in the first place) - can be directly attributed to avoiding that uncomfortable feeling of being confused, stuck, or unsure of how to proceed - and lacking faith that we have the answer within us.

It's not so much that we don't have the answer immediately available, it's the idea that we should have that has us swinging into the world of panic, discomfort and unworthiness - or as  Robert likes to call it, the "Imposter Syndrome".

A Better Approach
What if we met the discomfort head on, with a sense of adventure and exploration, and a focus on this moment - rather than what might or might not happen as an end result?

Painting asks us to cultivate our capacity to be with confusion, to not label it as a problem or something to move away from, but rather a spacious place where all kinds of wonderful, currently unknown things are possible.

If we bring that, and a judgment-free faith in our own creative process, trusting that all we need is a desire to try things out and see where they lead - then open-hearted curiosity can take precedence over the idea that the goal is to be clever, skillful or accomplished enough to have it all figured out now.

A note from my other world:

I am co-facilitating a Women's Retreat in Canmore on November 17th and 18th. The focus will be on gaining tools to address conflict from a place of clarity and authenticity, strengthening your ability to respond from a place of wisdom rather than react from fear when triggered, and shifting limiting perspectives to ones that are empowering and filled with possibility. If you're interested in more details please follow this link.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

25 Truisms of Plein Air Painting

"Warm in the Storm"
Oil on linen - 8x10"

This was painted on a gray, blustery day this summer. Didn't plan on putting all the colour in, just kinda went that way.

This post is inspired by lots of personal experience - including some masterful whining - and from noticing, in teaching over a hundred plein air students this summer, that for artists new to the plein air game, there seems to be an idea that it is supposed to be, hmmm - easier.

25 Truisms of Plein Air Painting

  1. There will be rain.
  2. You will be cold.
  3. There will be sun.
  4. You will be hot.
  5. It will be windy.
  6. Your easel will fly.
  7. Bugs will bite you. Right on the back of your neck just as you are laying in the key highlight on the water.
  8. People, curious people with no sense of personal boundaries, will appear from out of nowhere behind you and enthusiastically exclaim, "Hey! Can I see what yer doin'?" Usually just as your painting has entered the ugly duckling stage.
  9. You will fight with your gear.
  10. Your gear will win. 
  11. You will bring way too much stuff.
  12. You'll vow to downsize.
  13. It will take a very, very, very long time for this to occur.
  14. Your painting will look nothing like what's in front of you. Most of the time. This can be good. This can be bad.
  15. You will learn and grow and improve each time you go out.
  16. It won't feel like it.
  17. You will feel frustrated, lost, confused, hopeless and very much like a total beginner. Alot.
  18. You'll feel like you will never get it.
  19. You will get it. 
  20. You will develop superpowers of sight.
  21. You will build character.
  22. You'll have rich experiences that will turn into treasured memories.
  23. You'll deepen friendships through the bond of shared adventure.
  24. There will be a sense of passion, joy, peace, inspiration, connection, and wonder available to you every time you go out.
  25. 24 is the very best part. And the easiest to lose sight of. Unless you forget easy, forget comfortable, forget outcome; and tune in to that.