Some recent items in my inbox: “I’ve been busy this past month and not doing much painting.” “My work had to wait.” “Sometimes I’ll sneak in an hour or two.” “These days I can’t paint.” “I have wrung myself dry.” Sometimes my inbox is so full of this sort of stuff I fear people will unite, rent buses and march around our circular driveway with placards reading, “Can’t paint,” “Won’t paint,” and “Don’t paint.” It’s been my experience that telling people what you’re going to do can steal the thunder of doing it. It stands to reason that telling people what you’re not doing is even more deadly. As an antidote, how’s about those birth notices you see in the classifieds: “Aidan James Wyatt, seven pounds eight ounces, 2.15 am, March 28, 2010, to Scott and Marion Wyatt of Plattsville.” Just the facts. It’s a notice of accomplishment with no mention of the problematical conception or the current jaundice. No invitation for criticism either. Little Aidan has merely been announced and welcomed into our world.
Consider something similar for the birthing of your art: “Morning, Wiggins’ farm, 11″ x 14″, March 28, 2010, oil on canvas, by Bill Buckley, Plattsville.” Just the facts. Accomplishment. Twitter with words to spare. Or post it on Facebook for the eyes of the non-busy. Illustratable, too, if you feel like it. Thousands of “daily painters” know all about this and publish online while the paint is still wet. For those of you who are less exhibitionistic, archive it on your computer, print it out for your own album or journal, or quietly send it off to a friend. The buddy system is as good as any. When two close friends mutually announce their accomplishments, progress speeds up and negative placards get dropped.
As kids, we leave our stuff lying about for parents and grandparents to find and register. An approving nod may be all that’s needed. For folks who start early, accomplishment becomes natural. Late starters need to consciously build the habit of publishing at birth rather than agonizing the labour. With the buddy system you can also confide personal baggage and perceived impedimenta, if any. These confidences are best made orally, in person. That’s what friends are for. A good friend for free is greater than two psychiatrists paid. Birth notices need to be in writing — evidence of effort and the demonstrated ability to complete. May you print lots of them. Send ’em to me if you want.
PS: “The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.” (Émile Zola)
Esoterica: Speaking of starting early, on Saturday, granddaughter Zoë and I had a creative afternoon. We had a great discussion while we were at it, and while she has a few English words like “dada” and “papa,” most of our conversation was in something like Armenian. As art discussions go, she made a lot of sense. Nothing negative.
This letter was originally published as “Birth notice” on March 30, 2010.
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I wish each and every one of you well during this global health crisis and encourage you to flatten the curve by staying at home with your creative materials. I hope our Painter’s Keys community can be a source of friendship and creative inspiration during this time and always.
In friendship, Sara
“My friends are my estate.” (Emily Dickinson)
Join award-winning Plein air painter Sharon Rusch Shaver as she conducts her next exciting workshop to the Dingle Peninsula of Ireland. Painting daily in your chosen medium: oil; watercolor; pastel; pen and ink artists as well as photographers will find plenty of inspiration where the sea defines the life and creates excitement on this amazing Island. Daily demonstrations and one-on-one help will be provided for those wanting to learn how to work quickly capturing that changing light and color in their paintings.
Delicious chef prepared gourmet meals and a well-appointed ensuite rooms, as well as all ground transfers are included. All-inclusive* 9 nights accommodation, transfers, meals, and instruction. Go to: Adventure-Artists.com
I am a self taught artist, I work in oil, Acrylic and watercolour also in Pastels. Started painting In Ashcroft with Mr. Campbell. I taught my self how to paint by studying professional artists’ work through reading, TV programs, educational DVD and work shops.