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Painting of a cat birthday party

The first art book I ever bought was Betty Edward’s Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.

The book’s premise was that any beginner could learn to draw, and I was a beginner. Although I had zero formal training as an artist, I had a very big urge to create something. I had studied creative writing and had a drawerful of short stories. I had also once been a weaver and still possessed a lot of left over yarn. But, now that I was middle aged and headed towards retirement, I longed to draw. My sister is an artist and can render anything but I felt challenged in that area and did not understand the language of art or how to make something look realistic. So, I chose to start with what I did understand and that was color.

Color to me is what makes any creation come to life. Without color, I find there is little to engage me. Also, I felt I had a style of my own and a way of seeing that was not like most artists that I knew. Because of this I desired to find kindred spirits who loved color and enjoyed working in a style like mine.

I began by studying works of art and taking classes with people whose teaching style did not include hard and fast rules about painting technique. I found that I could start each painting with a sense of excitement, and thereby discovered my way of painting to be more intuitive; things would appear in my paintings spontaneously. Sometimes these mysterious elements would stayand sometimes they did not; the fun was all in waiting to see what would appear next.

A few years later, I found Shaun Mcniff’s book Trust the Process :An Artist Guide to Letting Go. I read this book from cover to cover and especially liked the points he made about adult artists expressing through the use of primary motor skills like those found in children’s artmaking. According to this book, children are often unconcerned with precision and find simple joy in painting. It was this carefree joy I was looking for. If I painted a chair with only 3 legs I began to allow myself not to notice or care. If a face was out of proportion, that became alright as well. I also discovered that the act of painting was therapeutic and daily practice was essential.

Taking my sketchbook to bed at night, I would draw and mostly create scenes that tell a story, for example: a cat giving a birthday party, a dog riding on a fish with a bird on his back, or a cow dressed in a cocktail dress. Yet, sometimes I was in a serious mood, imagining landscapes and allowing them to be part of my painting life. Skies fascinated me, water calmed me, trees swayed me, and I loved creating a sense of place.

After years of painting I still love it. I must paint and that says it all.

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