"Every time that I'm in the woods, I feel like I'm in church."
- Pete Seeger (Folk Icon)
The Act of... Pedalling
While the title of today's post might be at first written off as just another piece of "word smithing"
on my part... I offer it totally as some food for thought to each of you who seeks to elevate their painting processes. Think of the act of painting as being similar to riding a two wheeled bicycle. How did you begin that process of gaining the courage and skills necessary to leave your first three wheeler at the curb... to strip off the training wheels... or to feel the joy of travelling under one's own very power? What were the stages that you passed through to enable you to travel wherever you wanted under your own power?
Firstly, it took a certain level of personal need and courage to take up the challenge... and to overcome the fear of falling. Then it took determination and perseverance over many trials... perhaps guided by someone that you trusted before you finally felt equipped and ready to solo. Painting is very similar in many respects. Few of us are complete "naturals". Most of us simply at first felt enjoyment when we were pushin' a pencil... or paint. And as with riding a bicycle... once the skill is learned, it is seldom forgotten and usually just requires a few sessions to regain our confidence and level of skill. Then riding becomes an individual self-guided journey.
However... continuing to further use the "bicycle" metaphor... few us will ever reach a level of skill to actually compete in high level bicycle racing... or ever hope to represent our country in the Olympic Games... no matter how long we pedal our butts about. It is likely most unrealistic to set ourselves up for such lofty goals. The folks that end up in this part of the bicycle spectrum are dedicated... highly motivated athletes who were quite literally... "born to ride".
This does not however, disqualify any of us from enjoying the thrill of simply "riding"... by ourselves... or with others who share our common passion for just plain "pedalling". It's healthy for the body and soul... builds character and involves adventuring... well beyond daily limits or personal expectations. Quite simply... we are better for our participation and involvement. In fact... you could even... pedal n' paint. Where might that take one??? I wonder....
Pedal on... Risk... Explore... Coast... Take time to enjoy what's around you. Set achievable goals... and hope... never to arrive. Reaching such a destination would mark the end of a magnificent journey. Keep the dreaming alive.... Just pedal on!
Peddling... Your Passion... another kind of pedalling
In my own personal experience, I offer that the success in selling one's art is dependent upon many variables. Some lie well outside our ability to control. If one hopes to successfully sell in this weak economy... one must have a special bike "to peddle"... that is not just the average. In other words... not what everyone else is peddling. There has to be some unique quality that separates one's work from others. It might be more creative use of colour... strikingly different elements of design... or perhaps a unique handling of paint. Whatever... it must separate you from the "ordinary"... or the visions of others.
Identify what you have an earnest passion for. If it is landscape...then paint... read and totally immerse yourself in landscape to gain a full understanding of your subject. Come at it using different techniques... in different times of the day and with changes in lighting. Try painting the same place in other seasons. Shuffle the deck. And above all... do find pleasant weather to try your hand at painting en plein air. Nature is the most inspiring and patient teacher.
Not every painting we make is worth sharing... let alone placing it in the market place ... whether at a fair... or on a blog or web site. Some paintings are only exercises... whose truest value lies only in interpretation of the mistakes we have made. Take the courage to "make them disappear"... by your own hand after you have had ample time to study them and reach the conclusion that they deserve..."a thumbs down". Place only your best in your sales department. If you painted it with passion and feel pride that your name is on it... then likely those feelings will be translated and understood by potential clients and viewers... deeming it saleable. Viewers will admire and want it for the very reason that you painted it.
Shifting gears from painting butter tarts... to radishes and onions... then on to pets you have never seen... except in a photo really do little more than to fill time for a day. The question to be asked in my mind... is. What does my painting say to my viewer? Does it speak of a feeling deeply and passionately held within me Does it encourage participation beyond seeing it as another pretty picture? Is it evocative... provocative... active... ???
What I am offering in this post is simply "food for thought". Perhaps there might be a phrase that might help you in your struggle to pedal... and peddle... your very own two wheeler. I mean not to be in any fashion or terms judgemental. I merely wish to offer a view that has served me well on my long journey. The fact that I still go out to painting with joy... and receive ample "reward"... be it in $$$... or in compliments from people from all walks of life when they visit our Gallery. Those gifts serve to motivate me further in following... and sharing my path with those who are of kindred spirit with my own.
I'll end today's post with this profound passage from author Julia Cameron's inspirational creative hymnal "Heart Steps" first published in 1997. I found it closely matched my own artistic and spiritual beliefs.
"We are ourselves creations. We are meant to continue creativity by being creative ourselves. This is the God-Force extending itself through us. Creativity is God's gift to us. Being creative is our gift back to God."
Do paint with your heart... joyously... in your own image. Be proud of your achievements... but maintain humility. It too... is a necessary tool in the artists painting kit.
Here is an island setting and view that for half a century has served as personal marker which I have used to orient myself on my inner GPS. It served to mark my return to this place I call home... and it served to bid me goodbye as I glanced at it when I had ever to depart. All of this will soon disappear. This beautiful piece of white clad river heritage will very soon succumb to new change afoot all along this side of the Saint Lawrence. Some cash-fat "Daddy Warbucks" will soon have "his way" with the foot print left ... after this century-old architectural face on the River is flattened and scooped off to the local waste disposal site. That's the way it goes these days... up n' down the shoreline. Money speaks... as it always has... and Time pushes on by. Only the River itself continues its rythmn... and "they" are even playing with that too.
"Ridin' out the Storm... at Big and Little 99" - oil on canvas 10x12 inches
This is the first of a couple of smaller paintings that I wish to make to record its having been here. The white clad wooden boathouse was the "offing" point to countless Island adventures for all of the earlier residents and their guests for well over a century. A childhood chum of mine had resided in and took care of this property for half of his lifetime... only to be given an abrupt and totally unexpected "pink slip"... and an order to vacate within a month. This was not "the way of the River"... as I have known it. Property owners long honoured the special service of their caretakers and caregivers with the promise of a guaranteed life time of accommodation and security. Things have sadly changed. A handshake no longer can be expected to seal a promise or a deal. Where did honour go? I wonder.....
The two small islands are known to locals as "Little and Big 99". Little 99 barely qualifies to rightfully assume the title island. An island must ahve a least one tree growing on it to be offered this distinction and place in the famous "Thousand" count. I feel that their proximity to this river heritage offers my belief that it is indeed possible for Man and Nature to coexist in harmony - provided Man's arrogance and predisposition toi controlling nature at his whim can be moderated.
Just one ol' dude's rant... but it's my Truth.... and I choose to speak it and live by it!
Happy Fall... and Good Painting... to all!