Have you ever been outside experiencing something spectacular for the day? Say you were out on a hike and witnessed the a 3 o’clock sun setting on a distant tree line of a lake with dark clouds of a thunderstorm brewing behind those trees? Or how about the way the sun lights up a rock? Take a closer look at it sometimes. The most mundane of objects carries the most fascinating details that I would venture 98% of the world simply overlooks. Is it the rock that is fascinating by its mere existence, or the shadow produced by the natural light hitting the rock? And if it’s not that exciting of a rock, what can you still learn from it while it basks silently in the light? Do you really want to come home and talk about it? “I saw a rock today!” Or instead, what if you came home to “paint about it”? A picture is worth a thousand words. How exciting can you make that rock appear?
Now, I realize this somewhat bizarre opening paragraph might indicate that I have a penchant for the healing powers of crystals and donning a saffron robe while smoking weed with my head shaved but for a little tiny braid off the occipital ridge, but none of that is me. I’m pretty ordinary and rather nondescript. Where I differ from a lot of people lies in my interest for observation. I have a friend who once marveled at my observatory interest telling me that I was the most observant person he knew. Now, if he only knew two people, that wasn’t much to go with and since I don’t know how many other people he knows, I’m not going to let it go to my head. The main point is that I naturally tend to notice details. I make it a point to pay attention and look for things that make other things notable. Many, many people do not do this. And, it drives me up a wall. “How could they not see that?” comes to my mind. But, everybody has a set of their own rules that they live by that are not my set of rules, which is a good thing. I have to keep reminding myself of that. S0, they don’t pay attention to the things which I observe. And, some of them also get into trouble for it which explains broken bones, fallings, drownings, getting hit by a bus, and other depressing thoughts, but realities of life, nonetheless.
My upbringing was very much based on wilderness observation through being taught to hunt, trap and fish by my dad when I was veryyoung and in those formative years. Spending a lot of time in the woods or even just outdoors, really helps with one’s focus on details. Given the absolute fact that I have friends (Connie Edwards, et al) who have become excellent artists later in life, plus knowing my own abilities and what it took to get there, I am convinced that everyone is capable of painting about what they saw. Ialso believe they can do an astonishingly good job of it.I’ve heard countless people who view my artwork and then feel compelled to tell me that they never could draw and struggled through art class in school. Some of them are convinced that there is “no hope” for them, but I have always maintained that everybody can paint and do so with effect. It’s especially helpful if someone can tell you what you need to do to start. That is half the battle right there. When you were a kid in school, maybe the teacher wasn’t right for you, maybe you were distracted by that good-looking 8th grader at the end of the table. You had focus issues. Who didn’t? We were kids. But, as an adult you already have a set of observational skills of which you are not even aware. Once you figure out how to section apart what you are looking at and then identify the colors and tones as they sit before you, painting becomes a whole lot easier. Still sounds a bit challenging? It is. But it’s also a cerebral fun unlike any other activity that you might enjoy. At least that is what I think, anyway.
Painting is “yoga” without all the stretching and breathing. Now, you should probably do all the stretching and breathing because the extra oxygen to the brain will improve your painting, but my wife is the yoga teacher and I’m going to stick to what I know.
I suspect that painting lowers blood pressure and reduces stress. I suppose there are studies out there, but I prefer to guess. Painting, and the act of focusing on it, offers a great escape for one’s mind. The sky is the limit in what you decide to paint. There are no boundaries, no edges, and no end of the lines for you as long as you hold a brush with some color on it. The only limits in painting are in your imagination. Painting, unlike most team sports and even individual sports and activities, can be done into very old age even with disabilities. Plus, the other absolute beauty in painting is that nobody, and I mean nobody, can take it away from you so long as you can pick up a brush. The other cool thing about painting is that you don’t need a formal education to do it. While having an art degree is helpful perhaps as I’m sure such a degree broadens one’s horizons in all forms of art, to paint on one’s own requires nothing but the will to do it. Pick up a brush and find something to paint on. For the record, I have a degree in business and I took several art classes in college thinking I would learn something of value. Man – did they suck! 30 years later and I’m still talking about how crappy those so-called art classes were in college. I didn’t need them and neither do you.
That being said, getting started is still a bit more daunting to many and for that reason, I decided to put together a northwoods program for newbies to painting from a perspective of experience, observation and application. Mine is a multi-faceted approach to getting you started and stuck deep in the world of painting and fine art.
NOW – don’t get all excited when you look at the scattered wineglasses and mugs. We are going to start simply and keep it that way. I’m not expecting a Mona Lisa in your first hour and the beauty of art allows you plenty of room to explore, test and most importantly, have fun! Check out the links below for lots more info.