Monday, May 19, 2014

Jumping Off the High Dive Again

“Monhegan Beach”      12” x 16”      Pastel      $200      © Sharon LewisClick Here to Purchase 

            I had originally decided not to take the 3-day Liz Haywood-Sullivan workshop this May because even though I really admire her work (see, the only session I could take would mean that I really wouldn’t have a day off for weeks. Given the stress and lack of sleep caused by end-of-the-semester grading I thought that I could use a break. Fortunately I changed my mind because not surprisingly, I learned a lot from the workshop.
            The workshop focused on painting skies, clouds, and water, which I really enjoy but what was probably most helpful to me was how Liz emphasizes the great importance of basic drawing skills and gave us some useful tips for how not to lose the compositional design that I liked in my reference photo even when I transferred that design to a much larger canvas.
            So, what does this have to do with jumping off the high dive? Well, it’s because a typical workshop starts out with a well-known, very good artist, demonstrating how she/he paints which usually wows us all. Then this very talented person turns to us and says, “Now it’s your turn.” This is the part that makes most of us feel like someone has just said jump off this really scary, really high dive. We all set up at our easels and must then very publicly demonstrate our own skills…or lack thereof. It’s not supposed to be a competition but everyone’s different levels of skills and experience very quickly become apparent. It’s a little scary to me and I often wonder why I keep doing this to myself. I think the answer is that I know that if I truly want to be a better artist I have to have these learning experiences which means risking looking like an idiot jumping off that high dive but always with the faith that you will not really drown and maybe just maybe, you will make a beautiful, truly amazing splash.  
            Have a good week!

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