A friend of mine (let’s call him Dino) entered retirement the other day and took up painting. You could say Dino has a life-long appreciation of art, but until now he has only thought about actually doing it. He went to a lumberyard and bought some wood for stretchers. He quietly helped himself to a bed-sheet from the family closet. He was thinking big. His work is huge. He primed with blue latex, then hit it with commercial acrylic, roller and brush.
While he’s one of my best friends, he’s a non-subscriber. “I just want to have fun,” he says. “I don’t want to get anyone else’s information.” In my eye he’s on the way to becoming another Douannier Rousseau, if you know what I mean. Except that he’s fast. “I love this,” he says, “Haven’t been this turned on for years.” He’s now on his fourth painting. His kids have them in their rumpus rooms. They had to take down a lot of other art in order to find the space.
What’s to be learned from this? Is there a law against having fun? If it feels good, should you do it? Does it matter?
“Dino,” I asked, “What are you thinking?” He told me he’s no longer so enamoured with abstract art because “making a mess is the easy part.” He told me the big payoff so far is an increased awareness of the world around him — the design of leaves, the cut of mountains, the color and patterns in water. “Wow, look at that,” he says of the new-found sunset. His vocabulary is definitely peppered with superlatives: “Fantastic, outrageous, riotous,” etc. He’s a walking spark-plug of creative enthusiasm. There’s not a jaded bone in his body. Quoting as usual, I said, “Dino, your strength is as the strength of ten, because your heart is pure.”
“That’s true,” he said.
PS: “Enlightenment takes place when one lets his innocence emerge and sees nature and life with a childlike awe and respect. The ‘why’ of a child is repeated over and over, causing more questions and the never-ending process of discovery.” (Charles DuBack)
Esoterica: For the “pros” it’s part of the job description to hold onto what Dino’s got. We cannot allow that everything pales, everything perishes, everything passes. Every day we must search in our heart for our child. In life and art it’s better to be an enthusiastic amateur than a jaded professional. “Every creative act involves a new innocence of perception, liberated from the cataract of accepted belief.” (Arthur Koestler)
This letter was originally published as “Enfant terrible” on March 15, 2002.
“It is often said that my heart is too open for my own good.” (Henri Rousseau)
Come and paint with me in Lucca, Italy, May 2019!!
My painting holiday workshops are all about the fun of painting in a supportive group environment and is suitable for all levels. Mostly, we’ll be painting en plein air (a nice quiet locale in which to play with our paints!) and enjoying the fresh air. I know Lucca like the back of my hand and will take you to some of my favourites spots!! Each day will start with a short theory session, with an emphasis on quick value sketching then a demonstration of the day’s painting subject out on location. We will also explore subject selection and strategies to tackle complex subjects. After a lunch break, I will let you loose to paint and then come and help each student in turn throughout the afternoon.
After a well-deserved siesta, we’ll meet up for aperitivi and on to dinner; Lucca’s favourite dining spots will be waiting for us with a special menu just for us!
Tuition, meals, luxury en suite B&B accommodation, on-ground transfers and excursions are all included!!
E1895 Euros per painter, no single supplement
For more information email Amanda
My art represents an artistic journey that has been on-going for more than thirty-five years with help and guidance from many wonderful artists. Now, with years of plein-air painting experience, study and solo exhibitions, I believe that my current work has reached its highest level, reflecting the depth of my absorption in the wonder and beauty of the world around me. I have learned that, as an artist, I will never stop looking for better ways to express my feelings in art and that struggling to more fully understand myself is integral to my painting; a philosophy that was part of every workshop I taught. Still is.