Into The Brush – I believe you CAN!

Into The Brush - Saving the Future of Wilderness - One Stroke at a Time

Based on my own experiences I believe you can learn how to paint and have a great time doing it for many years.   All most people need is a foundation to build upon.  The problem is that if you were to head out to the big box art store and walk into the painting section with all those brushes, canvases, canvas boards, easels, paints, and etc., I think it is pretty overwhelming.  You can’t make up your mind.  You don’t want to buy a bunch of the wrong stuff.  You can’t really find someone to ask and you don’t know what to ask because the help is not always comprised of artists who use this stuff.  Their job is usually to find something for you and to put more product on the shelves.

Some of those places offer starting art courses which can be free or at nominal cost, but the problem I find is that you are in a larger metro area.  You find out how to begin.  You go home to your kitchen table with your new kit and what the heck do you start painting?  It’s probably a really nice kitchen in your home, but it is not conducive to painting scenes on canvas from memory.  You feel like chopping celery or beating up a poor, defenseless, egg.  I find it hard to draw inspiration from a beaten egg or celery.  That is why we are Into The Brush in northeastern Minnesota.

red canoe on shore

Out in the Wilderness – inspiring minds want to know how to capture it in paint

Into The Brush is a learn-the-basics painting program out in the northwoods of Minnesota at Northwind Lodge.  With every breath you take, every step you make,  I’ll be watching you you’ll be watching something new to lay down on canvas.  Now, I know you can get subject matter in the city as well, but  you really need to enjoy angular, linear, and round things.  There are many artists who paint architecture and do a really great job of it.  It also serves as a wonderful source for practice painting and study.  But, OMG, is it boring….    Pretty difficult to beat a beautiful lake, a creek and a waterfall white, bathed in lush green leaves and blue sky back drop.  That is our property right here.   Wake up to that every morning and tell me you don’t feel like painting something.   Take one of the lodge kayaks from our beach and paddle around Jasper Lake.  Tell me that you can’t find anything to paint after 2 hours on the water from a duck’s eye view.  Listen to Jasper Creek as it travels to Jasper Lake and see what the sound can inspire you to paint.  Pretty difficult to find  that in a metro area.  I mean, beauty exists everywhere, but it’s easier to find if it’s REALLY obvious.  Takes all the work out of finding inspiration and you can go home and paint a portrait of your pots and pans anytime thereafter.  My favorite was in one of the two art classes I took in college.  I got to stare at a huge pile of old shoes and boots and a smashed up tuba.  Try to draw garbage and find the will to keep on drawing.  I can’t believe I had to pay money for THAT!  I learned nothing of value for 10 weeks.  I didn’t pursue art in college as I would have had to smoke illegal substances to survive it.  How can anyone make something SO dull?  The wilderness out your cabin door here is anything but dull.  The most lowly blade of grass is beautiful here.  I believe painting and art should never be an exercise in tedium.

If you want to take the time and energy, I’ll help you get started with your own painted rock and other surfaces as well including canvases and glassware depending on which which package you select.  How about selling your work in the future.  Often, I hear that artists don’t sell their work because they only want to create it.  That’s great, but how does one buy more paint?  Plus, nothing says paint another one like applause AKA money.   Will you become a millionaire by selling your work?  Gosh, I really do hope so.  Nothing would make me happier!  Will you sell some of your works?  Maybe so, maybe not.  Is that your goal?  My recommendation is to “lightly” make it your goal.   Dream about it in the back of your mind and don’t get all dejected if you don’t sell one right away.  Actively selling your art is a whole ‘nother ball of wax, meaning a completely new and separate venture.  Let’s keep that goal because  a capitalistic spirit does wonders for learning but the “art part” tempers the entire personal experience with enjoying the path more than anything.  The path in painting remains the inspiration to paint.  One really can’t begin with “painting for dollars” in one’s mind.  It does not work because thinking about what will sell first limits your thinking to guessing what somebody else might be thinking.  It can be done, but you need to become one with the paint or at least get comfortable with it first.   It’s the blending of colors, following shapes, and observing, interpreting and emulating the details that has to be applied in order to paint well.  One also needs to draw inspiration and not forget that there will be moments of “blankness” just like writers (another artform) are so afflicted on occasion.

camping

The end result of your painting is the end of the path for that piece.  If you sell it – WOOHOO!  The best part is the affirmation that someone else values your work enough to take it home with them.   That is very inspiring in itself, but the competitive human spirit many times tells one to “beat” that last work.  People tend to strive for a “better” end result on the next piece.  And, if it doesn’t turn out, you can always repaint and try again!  Determination and practice always aid in the development of any skill.  Give it a good shot and see how it goes for you.

At Into The Brush at Northwind Lodge,  the goal is to learn key points that separates artists from people who believe they can’t paint.  Based on my own experiences, which I realize are different than everybody else, I still maintain that with proper attitude, a little bit of guidance, and exposure to wilderness, most people will be able to do something in a short amount of time.  Lay down the foundation and the house will go up.


Paint about it – Into the Brush

Into The Brush – How I Started Painting

Into The Brush – I believe you CAN!

Into The Brush – Painting & Wilderness

Into The Brush – Goals

Into The Brush Rates & Dates

Into The Brush – How I Started Painting

Into The Brush - Saving the Future of Wilderness - One Stroke at a Time

As you may or may not be aware, I grew up in the resort business of northeastern Minnesota.  At about 13 years of age, because of taking my dad’s woodburning pen and burning my drawings into wood, a private art teacher who was staying with us at the lodge, suggested I begin painting.

My immediate thought was that I could NEVER do that and said as much.  She, having a private art school in Mountain Home,  Arkansas,  politely disagreed and went back to her camper down by the lake, saying she’d be back a little later.   When she came back in an hour or so, she handed me a flat rock about as big as my hand in 1974 and told me to turn it over.  On it, she had painted a deer with a spectacular sunset and a treeline.  It was AWESOME!  I’d never seen anything like that before!  Having no exposure to people who could paint prior to this, I was blown away.

She then, in a matter-of-fact tone,  insisted that I could do that, too.

That older lady was like a dog with a bone about my  starting painting.  She told me to start out cheap and see how I like it.  She had me write down a list of paint and the types of brushes I needed to get.  She also told me about her favorite paints and made certain to mention how Grumbacher came to her school and offered her a big discount for exclusively using their brand of paints.  She refused because she felt that move would limit her students to only one brand of paint and the different strokes by different artists shall not be infringed.  It’s like the First Amendment of Painting, I guess.  My experience and opinion with paints has changed somewhat over the years.   I’m not saying how, because I’ll discuss that during class.

Like that art instructor told me, I went to town and bought $7.00 of paint and brushes.  I found a rock, cleaned it off and sat down at the kitchen table to paint for the first time feeling like I had absolutely no idea what I was doing at the time.  First I experimented with blending colors and then jumped into painting my mouse under a mushroom picture.

Within a few months, I was selling paintings on rocks and then I moved to canvas.   I was buying better paint and brushes.  I also bought an 8 x 10 steel tool shed from Sears which was a nightmare to assemble.  That became my studio for about $180.   I put in a tiny wood stove that my brother built in shop class, 4 stools for resort guest kids to sit at, an easel which I still use today, an airbrush, canvasses, etc.   A guy I painted a picture for brought me a gas regulator that would fit on a 100 lb. propane tank that was empty and I filled with air for my airbrush.  There I sat, night after night, all summer long painting canvases and selling them with several kids watching and talking while we listened to an 8-track of Jesus Christ Superstar over and over.  Initially, I thought it was hippy music but found it to be very engaging and well suited to painting.   Throughout college, I did a lot of commissioned work which paid for my books, computers (Time Sinclair ZX 81 with 16 Kb of onboard memory) as well as other stuff I needed including more paint that I bought at the UMD Bookstore.

Dancing Loon
Dancing Loon

All this activity stemmed from one lady artist who was our guest at the resort and who painted a rock for me.  It’s amazing to me how when the stars align at just the right moment, everything clicks into place.  It doesn’t happen often, but is quite notable when it occurs.

If you want to take the time and yes, spend the money, I’ll help you get started with your own rock and other surfaces as well, including canvases and glassware depending on which which package you select.  Will you become a millionaire by selling your work?  Gosh, I really do hope so.  Nothing would make me happier!  Will you sell some of your works?  Maybe so, maybe not.  Is that your goal?  My recommendation is to “lightly” make it your goal.   Dream about it in the back of your mind.  A capitalistic spirit does wonders for learning but the “art part” tempers it with enjoying the path more than anything.  The path in painting remains the inspiration to paint.  One really can’t begin with “painting for dollars” in one’s mind.   It’s the blending of colors, following shapes, and observing, interpreting and emulating the details that has to be applied in order to paint.  One also needs to draw inspiration and not forget that there will be moments of “blankness” just like writers (another artform) are so afflicted on occasion.

Trapping Shack
Trapping Shack

The end result of your painting is the end of the path for that piece.  If you sell it – WOOHOO!  The best part is the affirmation that someone else values your work enough to take it home with them.   That is very inspiring in itself, but the competitive human spirit many times tells one to “beat” that last work.  People tend to strive for a “better” end result on the next piece.  And, if it doesn’t turn out, you can always repaint and try again!  Determination and practice always aid in the development of any skill.  Give it a good shot and see how it goes for you.

At Into The Brush at Northwind Lodge,  the goal is to learn key points that separates artists from people who believe they can’t paint.  Based on my own experiences, which I realize are different than everybody else, I still maintain that with proper attitude, a little bit of guidance, and exposure to wilderness, most people will be able to do something in a short amount of time.  Lay down the foundation and the house will go up.


Paint about it – Into the Brush

Into The Brush – How I Started Painting

Into The Brush – I believe you CAN!

Into The Brush – Painting & Wilderness

Into The Brush – Goals

Into The Brush Rates & Dates

Into the Brush – Program Goal

Into The Brush - Saving the Future of Wilderness - One Stroke at a Time

Program Goal

Learn the basics of painting, and composition on canvas, glass, stone in a wilderness theme.   By the end of this experience, students should be able to walk into an art store and have a pretty good idea of what they like and want to do with confidence independently.    We want to hear “I can do that!”

All painting materials included.  You just need to show up.


 

Program Experiences – These vary with 4 or 7 day Program – weather dependent so this is a guideline and not set in stone.

  1.  Artistic Inspiration 1 – Wilderness Day Canoe Trip
    Experience wilderness in a nutshell as all 5 of your senses come alive in the unbelievable beauty that surrounds us here in northern Minnesota!   3- 4 hours on the water with the art instructor (me).   Includes all canoes, basic canoe handling instructions for water & land, pfd’s, paddles, transportation to BWCA entry point for gear.    Need to bring: Small day pack,  light rain gear,  lunch or snacks,  beverages, digital camera – smart phone works,too,  sunscreen and appropriate clothing for the temps.  Toe-covering footwear.  No flipflops or Teva sandal types.  Running shoes or light hiking boots OK.  Long pants recommended.  You’ll need to adapt clothing to current weather weather conditions.  If weather is bad prior to the trip, we will reschedule – flexibility is key.  Moderate exertion will be required and there could be bursts of greater exertion needed.  Wind can pick up on lakes at any time.
  2. Artistic Inspiration 2 – Wilderness Day Hike – Walk on land to experience wilderness on a more micro scale to develop a keener sense for that which makes every painting more intriguing and deeper in artistic input.  2.5 to 3 hours  View overlooks in deep woods.  Rugged terrain.  Moderate exertion.  Closed toe footwear required.   No flip-flops or sandals.   Long pants recommended, not shorts.  We will be in deep woods traveling on foot.  Gun for bears optional (Kidding.  No guns needed.  All we have to do figure out who is the slowest among us and outrun them.  Again, kidding!  There will be no running. We’ll just tie the slow one to a tree and walk away.)
  3. On non-travel days/activity days, painting will be in the morning and evening.   9:15 AM to 11:45 AM and  6:30 PM to 8:30 PM  Fridays mornings are independent study.
  4. Wednesday Night Campfire – Come sit around the campfire to watch flames dance in the dark while they light up the rocks and shadows that surround them.  Marshmallows optional.  Guess what we’ll be painting on Thursday morning.
  5. Live Bear Painting – We paint him blue and add stripes if he’s not too ornery.  This is for the advanced class.

Accommodations Available at Northwind Lodge.  Stay is not required to participate in Into The Brush program:
Housekeeping cabins with kitchens provided, running water (in pipes, not all over the floor).  Basic cooking and eating utensils provided along with Gas range, electric refrigerator, BBQ grill, microwave, coffeemaker, toaster.   FREE WIFI.  (Please check out the cabin videos to see what they look like inside.)    All bed linens, blankets, pillows & cases provided.  Must bring own bath towels, paper towel, food, personal effects.  If you need espresso, you’ll need to bring your own espresso maker.

For Painting Classes,  an old shirt as a cover up for painting is recommended but not required.


Fishing - Into The Brush

Non-Class Guest Activities –  If your husband or wife comes along but is not in the actual class this is what they (and you when not painting) can do.   Being that this is at Northwind Lodge, there’s that whole resort experience thing:

  • Self-guided kayaking and canoeing on Jasper lake with several kayaks available on first come basis at no charge.
  • Fishing on Jasper Lake with boat that comes with cabin.  Motor rentals are available by day or week.
  • Wednesday Evening Campfire.  Bring yourself and a bag of marshmallows to get sticky around the fire place.
  • Relaxing with a book at beach in adirondack chairs at the beach.
  • Swimming at the beach.
  • Shopping at our store Red Rock
  • Visiting Ely for the International Wolf Center, the Bear Center, dining, and shopping.

 

Paint about it – Into the Brush

Into The Brush – How I Started Painting

Into The Brush – I believe you CAN!

Into The Brush – Painting & Wilderness

Into The Brush – Goals

Into The Brush Rates & Dates