Last month, I treated myself to a week of learning new tricks. First was a 3-day monotype print class with local printmaker and collage artist Marcy Baker, then 4-days with Cold Wax artist and author, Serena Barton. The two workshops complemented each other well and I enjoyed the comradery amongst the fellow students. There is something different about learning in new-to-me media and then bringing it into my own work and existing skill set. It’s refreshing to be a beginner at something. I seem to have less expectations of myself, and therefore I’m far more relaxed and open to learning. Maybe if you are an artist yourself, you can relate. I have a tendency to be impossibly hard on myself. As a result, I’ve had some anxiety issues going into oil painting workshops in the recent past. The desire to produce noteworthy artwork, trumps learning anything new, which ends up being a detriment to the entire experience. Moving forth, I decided it would be better to put myself in a position of learning where it was impossible to have expectations, because I had nothing to compare to.
The most intriguing lesson of the workshops was discovering the wonder of working intuitively. Over the course of the week I managed to evolve and let go of any preconceived idea of what my paintings may look like in the end. This is when the real work began, the artwork became something I actually liked and was proud of. The medium, pigment, surface, energy and perhaps how much coffee I consumed controlled the process. As a representational artist, it was a challenging notion to let go. When I stopped forcing the horse to appear, my own work improved. It’s a unique feeling to switch into this gear of going by feel and driven by spontaneity.
It wasn’t until I was home and put the artwork on my shelf that I saw a waterfall, forest fire and basalt rock of the Columbia Gorge, which is how ‘Eagle Creek’ named itself. A friend pointed out a figure resembling an Etruscan style horse, which then named that image itself simply – “Etruscan Horse”. “Glow” was a slightly different process, where I used watercolor crayon to lay the form of a horse in, then wiped over and exposed different areas, till the image just felt right and she spoke to me as complete.
This work is completely different from anything I’ve ever completed. I had no idea I was even capable of producing abstract work, but there it is. Understandably some of my current collectors will love it, others will not. Change and evolving can be difficult to adjust to. Much like when your favorite musician releases a new album with a different sound, and you just don’t quite get it. However after a few listens, the same artist you love is there, and you can begin to appreciate the growth and courage it took to step outside their comfort zone.