I took a two hour break from my day job today to do a demo painting over at the open house at Bedlam Farm hosted by author Jon Katz and Fiber Artist Maria Wulf in Cambridge. The open house was already in full swing past the time I got there. Some people were watching a sheep herding with Jon’s dog Red, while others browses Maria’s Gallery, shopping for art by one of the ten or twelve artists she’s brought together for this event.
I had to be back at work promptly at two, so I set up my pochade box to get started. It took two seconds to realize I had forgotten the canvas. I panicked for a second, then texted the Thing1 to see he could bring me one. he was waiting for his girlfriend her to arrive before he came over to the open house, so I went searching for Maria to see if she might have a piece of scrap wood i could paint. as luck would have it, she had fence post it looked like it turned into a sign with raised lettering on one side. It was perfect. I took a few minutes to decide if I should paint on the side with the raised lettering or the flat plank but finally figured painting on board was enough of a new experience and dusted off the flat side start painting.
It was a new experience. The brush and would feel different, so I got out my pallet knives, which are usually use for tree leaves or grass but have never used to complete an entire painting. Are used a stiff brush to sketch out a little bit of a roadmap, and then begin mixing my sky.
I didn’t know exactly where I was going to go. My palette knife technique still needs work, so from the moment I slept first bit of paint on the board, the painting was an experiment. It was a series of what my favorite painter, Bob Ross, would call a “happy accidents.” The thing about letting happy accidents happen is that you start to let go of the idea that a painting needs to be perfect or even good, and just focus on the scene in front of you and trying to connect to it, trying to hold the connection.
it was amazingly fun, and different from what I usually do. I go with the philosophy that I may not be doing the right thing, but this is how I’m learning to paint, and actually kind of like the results today. If they still like it after having slept on it for 24 hours, I’ll be giving the painting to Jon for having giving me a kick in the figurative backside earlier this summer to get my painting back in gear and to Maria for being the fairy god-sister (she’s way too young to be a fairy godmother) to all of these creative people that she has brought together over the years.
I’ve watched a lot of watercolor videos over the years. Many of them tell you that you need to plan when you start painting so you know where you’re going to go. Even books and videos on oil encourage artist to create that road map, and it is helpful. What I found today, and what I found quite a few times in the last few weeks, is that the roadmap can be a guide, but sometimes you just have to get off the main road to learn and make something new.