I recently traveled from my busy Raleigh home into the rolling city of Asheville to pick up my artist-friend Donna from Toronto and ventured to the winding elevations of western Carolina, the foot of Cullowhee Mountain, where we were taking a class with Stuart Shils, "Perceptual Craft and Life Painting Studio".
My revered teacher Steve Aimone (Aimone Art Services) always reminds, "the only failed painting is the one beginning with rigid expectations as to the outcome." Why didn't I realize this truism can generally be applied to life, as well as workshops?
By the end of the week, after painting many 5 and 20 minute figures with opaque acrylic applied with a soft round brush ~ I NEVER WORK THIS WAY ~ and analyzing size and placement of colors and shapes within the paintings of masters ~ A FANTASTIC STUDY OF COMPOSITION ~ and listening to copious words and generous sharing from Stuart about his process, experiences, feelings about art ~ I LOVE HEARING THIS BUT I WANT TO EXPERIENCE IT AND THESE FRAGMENTS ARE OVERWHELMING ME~ my creative muscles were aching!
This workshop was not as I expected, as if I had climbed miles up a mountain without training; I was feeling the burn.
And this is just where he wanted his students to be, Stuart declared.
Now that the burn has had a chance to calm, the mountain experience for me is to realize that the fragments that I want so seamlessly to fit together just do not. It is in the commitment to making the climb each day, receiving what the path has to offer without having to know the outcome.
Below are images of our lovely model, a demo by Stuart and his thumbnail, and my attempts at a set of four thumbnails.I can feel a mind shift in the way I see and think about the picture plane from doing these exercises. It is another tool to add to the process-toolbox.