WORKSHOP FOR ARTISTS
Bob's Thoughts on How to Let Go
& Loosen Up
The Pep Talk - Notes for my Loosen Up Workshops
Plus My Thoughts on How to Let Go and Loosen Up in My Painting Class
Before class begins you're excited, full of fear, full of expectations, nervous and usually didn't sleep well the night before. You're beginning to question yourself, "Why am I here? I'm not any good, what if the person next to me is a better artist?" Every fear comes up to sabotage what you really want to do – to paint better.
In this class, I will demonstrate some techniques that work for me. It is only ONE way to paint. There is no THE way to paint. Try my methods and techniques. Later, when you return to your own studio, you might fall back into your old, safe, comfortable zone of painting but when you get into "painting trouble," you might remember some of my techniques to help you through.
This is a safe environment for you today. I am on your side. I am here to help you. Help you to paint the way you've always wanted to paint. Not to teach you how to paint like me, but instead to help you paint like you. You will focus today on one thing. Your creativity. It's what you are all about.
Your creativity is a gift that you already have. Your artistic sense is already in you. I cannot give you something you already have. I can show you how to accept the gifts you already have. So what are you going to do with this talent? Wait until you're better to paint? You are as good as you're going to be right now. If you paint with all the talent you have right now, everyday, you will get better at painting and your creativity. So you will need to paint more – not less. Today's demonstration will show you how to paint more works and faster.
This day is another gift you've given yourself. Don't worry about yesterday, it's the past – it's history and does not serve you today. Don't worry about tomorrow, it's the future and you cannot predict it. Only concentrate on today, and on your own creativity and what's in front of you, right now. Focus on YOUR creativity. Don't worry about trying to impress me, or others around you. You are here to make your art. Especially don't paint for someone else's approval. Don't paint for someone who doesn't paint. Remember, you have my permission to paint the way you've always wanted to paint. (see Permission Slip)
My style is still developing after thirty years of painting. Your style is where you are today and don't be concerned about being true to any specific style, thereby forcing yourself to stay within that box forever. One of the greatest natural gifts you already have as a creative person is your ability to change your mind. When something isn't working out for you in your painting, change it!
Thomas Edison knows one thousand ways the light bulb does not work. It worked at one thousand and one. He didn't give up. In painting, anyone who doesn't change his mind doesn't have one.
And please know, to be a better painter is about "risk-taking." Risk-taking is failure prone; otherwise it would be called "sure-thing-taking." Painting in a creative spirit mind is full of the mind ploy of "what if..." What if I change this? What if I make the grass red? What if I paint the ocean orange? If it does not work out, I just smile and say oops! (see your Oops Slip)
You wish to be a better painter but you are only as good as you are right now. Technically, you can't be better than you are right here and now. We all want to be better painters and the only way to be better is to paint more paintings not less. Most surprising to aspiring painters is the fact, professional painters paint, not because they know how to paint, but because they don't know how to paint. One never gets to really know how to paint. Painting isn't something you get. There is nothing to get. You already have it. It's the desire, the passion to learn and teach yourself to be a better painter. And this is done simply by going to your studio and making lots of paintings. On the market, there are too many how-to-paint books and magazines. They show techniques and ideas and styles. But none can teach you what you already have – the gift of your own creative voice and that creative desire to make lots of paintings.
You've heard this before and it is the truth. Painting is a process and has nothing to do with the end result. If you have to be absolutely sure of the end result, don't be a painter. It's all about the pleasure and joys (and pain) of actually doing the work. It is the process, the journey that you'll need to stay focused on. The end result will be an accumulation of your whole life experiences up to this time – all coming out onto your painting. And all of a sudden, there it is in front of you. The painting has an uncanny way of announcing itself to you. If you paint, staying focused on your creativity, your gifts, your existing talents, your own personal goals, you will have a stack of exciting, new and "uniquely you" style of paintings. It's not any more complicated than that.
Most of us tend to be and think like "responsible" adults. We've read all the art books (actually you've bought all the art books, you never really read them.)You're over-thinking the creative process. You're looking for guarantees and answers. You gather all the information about making art because you want to be sure of the end result (a pretty picture). You don't want to "waste your time" with possibly making a failed painting and thereby risking being embarrassed by your efforts. It all comes down to this – you have a choice between giving your work your best shot and risking that it will not make you happy, or not giving it your best shot and thereby guaranteeing that it will not make you happy. It's all risk taking.
Get out of your responsible, adult head and become more open, curious and adventuresome in your attitude towards making your own art. Children really believe they are already artists. They haven't read any books on art. Give a child a sheet of paper and pencil and watch them go at it. We adults shut down because it just feels so reckless and irresponsible. In fact, to become a better painter, this is exactly what you will continue to need – the reckless attitude of fearless painting. When you remove the fear of painting, you automatically become a "warrior for your art."
Did you ever notice that painters never retire? Like great orchestra conductors, great painters just keep on doing their art. It is their way of life.
A life of getting better and better. And not ever saying "I got it down, this is it, or I know everything there is to know about my art!" In fact, Picasso lay dying in bed said, "I think I'm just beginning to get it" then died.
Henri Matisse, old, ill health, poor vision, continued to make his art regardless. And he said, "All your life you must see with a child's eyes." He also said, "All my life it has bothered me that I do not paint like anybody else."
Beethoven, although knowledgeable in all the academic skills in making music, said "It's not the technique that counts but it's the passion that matters."
I base my own creative process from those painters who have gone before me and who I admire as artists who have made a difference. What makes my heroes different from other artists? Their fearless ability to try new approaches, giving themselves permission to paint the new. Styles? Just look at all the "styles" these artists went through in their entire lives. And never really asking permission to try newness in their work. They never asked. They went to their studios and did their work. That's the difference between an artist and an adult who dabbles in art. Real artists just go do it. In my studio, I've written on the wall -- "Just get it done!" We over-think.
We over plan and overwork our paintings. For me the creative process is about being open to everything and to react with a sense of urgency to paint with an immediacy and to say YES to myself a lot during the painting process time. If you have to ask the question, the answer is always YES. (see your YES Slip)
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