In last week’s plein air workshop I kept thinking about the similarities between Painting and Golf. I like to make analogies when I teach, to help students keep perspective on the creative process. By comparing painting to other activities like music or golf, the students can step back from their frustrations a bit, and see things in perspective.
“Achievement is largely the product of steadily raising one’s level of aspiration and expectation.” – Jack Nicklaus
Both Painting and Golf are extremely challenging. In both painting and golf, the success rate is low, even for professionals. Tiger Woods does not expect to hit a hole in one on every hole, or even every game. Similarly, professional artists do not expect every painting to succeed the first time. Artists make preliminary sketches and studies, just as golfers take practice swings and practice putting and driving. Both Golf and Painting attract hobbyists and professionals alike.
Practice is required for both Golf and Painting. Driving and putting are not the same as playing the game of golf against opponents. By the same token, class exercises and sketches are not the same as making a painting. Practice must be focused on improvement, not repeating the same mistakes over and over. Directed practice in golf might focus on correcting a swing. Similarly, directed practice in painting might focus on improving a value pattern or color scheme.
Golfers and Painters must both focus on a good Mental Game. Keeping a positive mental outlook boosts confidence in both fields. Focus and attention are important to help overcome the difficulties of each pursuit. Success in golf or painting can often breed a kind of obsession, too. Both Golfers and Painters become passionate about their pursuit. The variety of golf courses, just like the variety of painting subjects, can entertain enthusiasts for a lifetime.
What other similarities can you think of between Painting and Golf?
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Here are a few select snapshots from my plein air workshop with Vistas and Vineyards! Click the thumbnails for the full image.
New Workshop Announcements
ABC’s of Abstraction – International Society of Experimental Artists: September 24 – 28, 2018 – Newport Oregon
We will cover both the elements of design and the ‘mental game’ in art-making.
Using acrylic and collage, students will explore shape, line, color and texture to craft vibrant paintings that stir the emotions.
You will learn organizing principles, painting tips and techniques for overcoming self-doubt and indecision. Still a few spots left – Register Here
ABC’s of Abstraction –All Media Santa Clarita Artist’s Association: November 9 – 11, 2018
The mad dash of the Holiday season is over and today is a time for recalling some of the successes of 2014 and looking forward to 2015. My posting here has been as thin as my new paintings, though I did finish a gift for my son in time for Christmas (below.)
The past year has brought success. I achieved many of my goals, including exhibiting in National Exhibitions, teaching workshops out of state, and increasing my income. Most recently, two of my paintings (“Learning to Fly” and “Turnover“) were accepted in the North Valley Art League’s National Painting Show by juror Vinita Pappas. The show will run from January 29 – February 28, 2015 at the North Valley Art League, 48 Quartz Hill Dr., Redding, CA.
My blog and website have been a big part of that success, so thank you for reading! I always think it is interesting to see the patterns of what viewers respond to most. My most popular post of the year was last January “Socratic Art Evaluation.” It had 245 views in one day, thanks to the Brush Buzz Newsletter from Fine Art Studios Online. Total views of the blog and website for the year were 21,000!
Each year I set goals, and this year is no exception. My goal is less specific than in previous years, and is inspired by a blog post I read this week by Rebecca Crowell. In it she talks about the balance between Intention and Intuition, and how both are important to the creative process. Read the entire post here: http://rebeccacrowellart.blogspot.com/2014/12/intention-and-intuition.html This balance is something I talk about in my classes.
My favorite analogy is to compare the painting process to a journey, one where you don’t have any reservations to stay or a specific itinerary in mind. You’re just taking a road trip, say to San Francisco. Along the way you might enjoy exploring a museum, an estate sale and a beach, all unplanned. You might never make it all the way to San Francisco, but at least you know you are going to head south, toward the Bay area.
Golf is another of my favorite analogies. Golfers know that they are aiming for the current hole. They may not be able to visualize every step needed to get there, because each stroke depends on the previous. Similarly, each painting step depends on the previous. And no golfer, no matter their skill level, expects to hit a hole in one with every game.
This year I hope to find a more true balance between Intention and Intuition. It is a quest that will likely take more than a year!
I’ll leave you with a beginning… the first layers of a new abstract painting. This piece is planned to be a companion to “Crossover.”
Work in Progress – Abstract Beginning – Oil & Wax
And, a part of a poem for inspiration. I always think of the Holidays as a sort of Sabbatical from the rest of the year.
“Ten Sighs from a Sabbatical” by Rodney Jones
Let loose. Lists into ashes. Tasks into stones.
In lethargy I revise myself. I loiter in the lily’s canal.
Time to mood-walk among obsolete resolutions.
To drain rhetoric to all that does not speak and cannot listen.
Hello thistle. What do horses hear?
A nap cleans me like a tooth. Mere duty rocks the hours.
The brain’s self-whispering brushes the conscious event.
The face of a good friend is a breast.
A call comes in on the switchboard of the birds.
I swivel and skitter, a potato thrown through a warehouse.
My husband & I had a weekend away from the farm last weekend. We went to a remote cabin between Granite and Ukiah, Oregon, in the Blue Mountains. It is an annual trip for my husband, but I’ve never done it before. What a beautiful area! We spent time fishing, driving around the various back roads, visiting local friends and spending time with family.
I made a plein air painting of the meadow on our first day, but I gave it as a gift to our hostess for dinner one night and forgot to get a photo of it.
My son, his best friend and my nephew hiked in to Crawfish Lake to spend a couple of nights and fish. We had great luck fishing, including the whoppers pictured, and quite a few small ones… both brook trout and rainbow.
When we returned, I hosted a college roommate and her husband for a fabulous trout dinner. I’m including a link to the recipe I used, mostly because I don’t want to lose track of it. It was THAT good! The sauce was excellent and I think the recipe would be good for any kind of fish. I altered it to make it gluten free, using GF flour and also removed the skin from the trout and coated both sides of the fillets with pecans. YUM!
Now I’m back to the studio routine. Enjoying my painting time and getting things framed for the shows I have coming up. I hope to see you at one of my events! Still room in my October workshop… your space is waiting!
This is another plein air sketch from Boskey Dell Nursery last month. Our weather here has rapidly progressed to summer, and I’m missing the crispness of spring! Getting out and painting with friends is one of my favorite ways to spend a day. This quotation sums it up for me:
In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. -Albert Schweitzer
My ‘Spark Session’ last weekend was just that… a rekindling of spirit, for myself and my students! We enjoyed painting together, looking at great art, and even snuck in some time sharing the nearby labyrinth. I’ve walked them alone before, but this was my first time sharing the experience with others. What a joy!
Judy and Shawn on the Labyrinth
The other Judy, working!
Our instigator, Jennifer
The other friends I’ve been spending time with lately are books. My book club has recently chosen some new reads, and I am eating them up like candy. Here we are at our 20th anniversary meeting! These women have become some of my closest friends, and I look forward to our gathering each month for a wonderful meal and meaningful discussions.
First Tuesday Literary Society
Here are some links to my recent reads. I’m warning you though, they are addictive! I think I read each of them in 48 hours or less! Happy reading. The first and second are moving portraits of friendship. Click on the book images to go to the Amazon.com page for each book, or check them out from your local library.
Reading blogs this morning, I came across this question on Grace Carol Bomer’s blog: “Are you a person that prefers to believe in things that always make sense/things that you can see? Or are you a person that prefers to believe in miracles/take things on faith? There are no right or wrong answers–just an opportunity for introspection.” . The question was inspired by the movie “Life of Pi.”
This got me to thinking about recent changes and questions in my artwork. In all of my paintings, the story or narrative is the spark. Recently I’ve been experimenting with stories of imagination, miracles, things unseen. I still return to paint things that make sense, things as I see them. I’ve felt a bit schizophrenic in my productivity, but moving back and forth between realism and abstraction has felt as natural to me as sampling both fiction and non-fiction. I normally prefer fiction. How about you?
Last night I finished reading Wild, Cheryl Strayed’s memoir of her solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. It was a story of faith, courage and spirit, told with humor and honesty. One of the many things that touched me upon finishing the book was the Acknowledgements section at the end. When we finish a painting, artists don’t have a card below that painting thanking the many people who helped in small ways to bring that painting into being. I think my next post may focus on Acknowledging some of those people!
Here are a couple of shots from a Plein Air outing yesterday at Minto-Brown park. I met some folks whose work I have followed online, and other new painters. It was a great way to get out of the studio and make new art friends! Thanks to Randall Tipton for organizing the outing. The location was beautiful, wild and mossy, and it was one of our few mild days, no wind and the rain held off till we were finished painting. Temperatures in the upper 50’s made it possible to get the two paintings above nearly finished. Let me know what you think…
I’ve been working on this painting since December, mostly using my memory of the Oregon Coast as inspiration. Painting a realistic subject from memory is fraught with problems of perspective, lighting and more, but it does allow for wonderful color moments and mood. Those were my goals in starting this piece. It became more realistic than I intended at the outset, but I think it is finally finished. My family is certainly tired of giving me their input 🙂 I enjoyed working with color on a larger scale, and the oil paints were wonderful for that. The final painting bears no resemblance at all to the initial layers.
This painting is destined to hang at our beach house in Newport, and will replace some terrible, mass-produced, trite “artwork” that was offending me every time I walked into the room. I have decided to hang it without a frame, in a more contemporary presentation.
For the past year or more, I’ve been working between realism and abstraction, waffling back and forth, trying to find my way. The landscape has become more and more important to me as I consider place and its impact on my life, my family’s life and our personal history. It is a subject that I am grappling with internally, and feedback from friends and professional mentors has not helped to clarify my confusion. I do know that true realism is not my goal, and hasn’t been for quite some time. My best work uses some elements of abstraction and is inspired from memory and personal experience. Whether the subject is landscape, figure, a combination of the two, or abstraction of them, I continue to explore.
I hope that my collectors and supporters can follow along on this journey. But regardless of who is with me, wherever it leads, I must go. I can’t remain in one place. Be prepared for future posts to show you what I mean.