Ode to perseverance and how to overcome I cannot

Life is always full with something, and we are mostly busy, sometimes with the most beautiful things and events, sometimes with terrible, annoying issues. We simply deal with that, and not everybody has the courage to take some time for them and to spend it as they wish. We often hear: oh, I cannot attend your event because there’s too much on my plate at the moment. I cannot participate because I simply don’t have time. I cannot do this because I’m too tired after work. I’m too sick to paint and create. There are billions of excuses, and behind “I cannot” is quite often hiding: I don’t seriously want it. I am not willing to make a commitment. I am not sure if I want anything at all. It is so much better to do nothing, to stare at a screen, to watch other lives unfold and get complicated. It is so much easier to let everything just flow by and to go with the stream. The power of doing nothing is great! It is huge and it can take us over with ease.

Who doesn’t know moments of emptiness, moments of weakness, and moments of a complete exhaustion: mental and physical? That is life, and unfortunately, nothing and nobody can prevent such moments from happening. I know this so well: it can be abnormally tough at times to resist the tiredness and pain. Well, we have two choices: feel sorry and cry or stand up and get going.

I am for those who make everything happen. I am with those who fight their own moods, pain and helplessness. We have a fantastic tool to make our life better: it is the self-improvement. Step by step, one move at a time.

Therefore, I feel extremely blessed that my art and painting classes have brought me together with such sincere, honest and creative people. It is very simple to take a brush and swipe it over canvas. Play is attractive. How about when we want something more? Not only spots and splashes, but something way exceeding basics?

Creativity and self-improvement are both: rewarding and demanding. Rewarding all the way through the discoveries and confusion, giving back things which we never even expected; and demanding because we cannot give up our efforts by facing the first difficulties. Self-improvement requires perseverance, a strong spinal cord and ability to go against the wind. I suppose, life is generous mostly to those who dare. Dare to overcome at least their own resistance and remove the internal brakes.

I would not call the participants of the Wednesday group students anymore. Some of them have become established artists after attending my classes, and I am really proud of that because I care how my students are doing and they try to do their best. I am sometimes telling them: you don’t even need any classes any longer. They answer: we love the group and the atmosphere, and we still appreciate the advice. The Wednesday class takes a break now. We are meeting closer to the fall again. However, the question that surprises me most is: how do these really busy people always find the time not to skip any single class? Well, the secret must be unsophisticated: we always can find time for things we love. I would like to thank all my long-term creative friends and participants of these painting classes. Keep your brushes wet!

I am attaching some pictures from the recent painting class which was the last this spring/summer.

Adult painting class Birch painting

Sarah joined the group just recently

adult painting class LIz working at her masterwork

Liz working at her masterwork

adult painting class Gordon is a musician and artist

Gordon is a musician and artist

adult painting class Bev's birch painting

Bev’s birch painting: she is one of those who keep attending art classes regardless of anything

adult painting class Classroom

Birches and bluebells: nice and extremely simple scene!

adult painting class Birch demo

The picture of the demo didn’t come out too clear, but it is visible

Adult painting class Whitby Ontario

Nice mood and lots of fun

adult painting class Liz paints with passion and no wonder she sells her paintings

Liz paints with passion and no wonder she sells her paintings

adult painting class new artists are welcome

The last spring/summer Wednesday class: see you all in September!

Million shades of everything: experiment!

When somebody wants to try painting, they usually are not very excited about getting lots of materials. However, some people would like to have their own paints, at least some of them in order to work on sketches or perfect the scenes we have done during workshops.

Acrylic color mixing art classes for beginners

Did you know that using just ultramarine blue, primary magenta, cadmium yellow medium and titanium white, it is possible to mix up quite a few thousands of shades, and these mixes are pretty much unlimited taking into account how slight change in proportion would alter the color? We don’t usually use only premixed colors or paints straight from the tube. Everybody is aware that yellow plus blue allows mixing up greens, and red plus blue creates purple shades.

Acrylic color mixing art classes for adults

Adding yellow to different shades of blue and red causes the graying effect and results in fantastic variations of neutrals. Why do we need grey shades and background neutrals? Well, they make other colors shine. We don’t have to always paint sunsets in order to observe how yellow shines on a grey-blue or purple, but we often need those fairly saturated neutrals to build up some scene or object. They also give all objects more substance.

Acrylic color mixing experiment

One can have color charts and theory books and check out all available information on color mixing, yet not manage it when it comes to painting. How so? We know many things in theory. Quite a lot of them, but when it comes to applying the theoretical knowledge in practice, everything is completely different. I’ve observed the following: we just discussed some approach or principle, and we are now about to use what we learned about it practically. What happens? Nothing. Theoretical knowledge without decent amount of practicing is worth zero.

Acrylic color mixing Spring paintings

We were doing a lot of spring scenes, roads and fences recently.

Acrylic color mixing workshop image

This is the image we got done within 3 hours.

I slightly adjusted it later, mainly trees.

Acrylic color mixing workshop Spring scene

Painting, drawing, singing, dancing, playing an instrument and similar can be only taught by explaining, showing and demonstrating. Plus theory which many people assume the most important part and that is not true. The rest is up to that person who wants to acquire new skills or ideas. Because they will have to do this on their own: they will have to use what they just saw or heard about practically, and they will be moving brush and adding colors. It is a great exercise for decision-making: we have to make a decision every second or even more frequently.

I’m always encouraging students to experiment. Experimenting and exploring is the key to knowledge. Why? There is never only one correct way of painting or drawing something. In fact, there are thousands of ways when we are trying to get similar results. Let’s take for example video tutorials. How to paint trees? How to paint clouds? How to paint forest? The answer is: whatever way you find it suitable for you because these tutorials will show how to paint trees according to X, or clouds as Y is seeing and perceiving them, and forest in a manner of Z, but A might consider such trees incorrect, and B will tell you that nobody should paint clouds like Y was doing them. If video material gives you push and you’re trying to figure it out after watching how effortlessly somebody has done it, fine. However, when you are one on one with brush and paints, things are not the same. The more paint colors you have, the more confused you might become. Well, many color mixes yield very close colors, especially in acrylic where everything will be much darker after it dries.

Do not allow anybody to steal the pleasure of discovery from you! Some people are very insecure initially since they believe they don’t know enough about painting to paint. Well, that’s just wrong. There are artists who have more experience, but nobody knows everything about everything. The other matter is that we develop our mastery and build experience only when we take creative risks and dare to explore and experiment. Therefore, experiment, experiment, experiment! It is good to ask a question when something is not happening the way you expected, but there is no need to check every single move on the internet and perform major search just because you are not sure whether to use blue-green or yellow-green on some spot. Do it your own way, it might take longer, but all efforts will pay off when you’ll have painted exactly what you were trying to.

These images show my efforts trying to take a decent picture of a wet painting in a poorly lightened room.

Acrylic color mixing Road to Spring

However, I quite liked two of these not ready for a website images:

Acrylic color mixing Spring scene

This has reflection because it was too wet.

Acrylic color mixing Spring painting

This came out darker than in reality

It is much better to have your own painting on the wall than some print. Print is a print, it will never have the energy of an original, therefore it makes sense to frame also kids art because it has that special touch. Does our art have to be perfect? We can certainly try to get to that stage, but absolutely flawless and impressive art is extremely rare. It sometimes happens, obviously not with every single piece. I’m doing this all the time: just working towards one great picture which will be the best ever.

Two major errors are these: beginners try to paint with hardly any paint, with a tiny droplet of it. In acrylic that means, it dries out almost instantly.

Acrylic paintings art classes for teens

The small poppies, just a 15 minute exercise, looks good on the wall, not that great as a picture.

Second: beginning artists always pay attention to color and most often absolutely no attention to value. We can change color in a second, but for any painting we need some kind of values placed accordingly to our plans. Therefore: experiment! So that you can meet the spring in nicely decorated house and use your own paintings for that purpose.

Road to spring acrylic painting by Inese Poga

Finally got a better picture which looks more than the real painting.

Is too much knowledge preventing you from getting started with something?

I’ve noticed when observing all kinds of students of different ages when they are about to pick up some new skill or try to do something they haven’t been trying before: too much preparation can result in never getting started with anything.

Children usually are very successful with absolutely new stuff: they don’t try to over-prepare and don’t try to collect all possible and imaginable tools and references in order to get started. That has been the case with anything in my very long teaching career: it was the same when I was teaching German language and literature, or Latvian, or design, or art.

We are flooded with huge amounts of information: every second, every minute when we have turned on TV or are sitting at computer, or are checking out our phone. This information can be related or totally unrelated, true or false, meaningless or crucial to whatever we are doing and we are supposed to absorb at least some of it. Should we? To some extent we obviously should be aware of what’s going on and do research when we are exploring something, learning something or trying to figure things out.

However, with so many sources and with such infinite amounts of advice, we most likely will feel rather lost.

This refers very directly to drawing, painting and any other creative activity. I know people who would not start drawing or painting because they assume they don’t know everything about it. They are trying to get ready for this activity, to learn “the basics”, to explore techniques and mediums in order to decide what exactly is that they’d like. Many of them never get to any drawing or painting. Why? There are millions of different techniques, approaches and ways to do that.

How it is then possible to find out whether painting is what one wants to do? Extremely simple: give it a try. Nobody knows everything about anything. We can follow hundreds of websites, we can watch thousands of “how to” videos and read endless articles or books about painting. There’s lots of advice out there, and some of that is even useful for us in particular, but most of it will not promote one’s start-up in art. Why not? We have to do before we can decide if we like that or not. Only those who get their hands on that something can hope to get something done.

Other good feature of students who don’t have too much knowledge is that they have no fear. They are not afraid to damage paper or canvas and they fearlessly apply courageous strokes of paint or put down lines on paper. That results in a good or satisfactory first painting. They do not think it is some kind of superb masterpiece but realistically evaluate it, try to understand what went wrong or didn’t come out as expected, and so they can keep improving themselves with the next painting. The knowledge comes through doing and that is the only way to gain experience. Experience is an excellent building block of mastery.

This is how hands-on activities are contributing to fast development of any skill: you see it happening and you try it immediately. Something went wrong: try it again. Watching other people doing and showing things can give us an idea about how we should proceed, but until we haven’t tried it out for real, we will never know how exactly it is done. We can learn all kinds of composition and color theories, but when the paint dries out fast and when the brush is moving, there’s no time to recall all lectures and articles. The way we can make our own color theory happen is to mix, to test, to check and to apply paint. This might take some time until the brain remembers what hands were doing and how this was matching our creative intentions, but eventually we will have it: our own elaborated theory on anything.

The first steps are the most difficult. Those who are afraid to get wet won’t ever learn swimming.

It will be interesting to compare some of these first works with art they’ll be doing in a year or two.

 

Gallery