Thursday, August 30, 2018

Changing Your Attitude

You can even make the best of a downpour.
Painting in pastel with one hand while holding an umbrella in the other.

If you are a “the glass is half-empty” kind of person, here are some things you can try that will help you see the glass as half-full.  As I mentioned in my  previous post, having a positive attitude will yield a positive experience.

Usually, things start going into the ditch at a workshop when:

  • You discover you didn’t bring the right materials
  • You decided to bring some new, untried gear or tool
  • You have trouble finding a subject that engages you, or
  • You simply got out of the wrong side of the bed.

(By the way, these things have all happened to me, too.)

Here are a few thoughts to help you steer you back onto the road:

  • Wrong materials? So long as you have something to paint with and something to paint on, you can make it work.  I forgot my mineral spirits once, which made painting with brushes difficult if not impossible, so I picked up my painting knife for the first time and learned to use it.  The worst situation, of course, is having nothing to paint with or on.  In this case, perhaps you can borrow the materials from another student.  Or, you can go around with your camera and gather references for possible studio paintings.
  • New gear or tool? If it’s not working for you, perhaps you can return to something with which you are more comfortable.  Or maybe you can push through the newness.  I like to field-test new equipment and take it as a challenge.  I had a new pochade box once, the concept being that one wore it around the torso with a strap while standing, and painted with it that way, without a tripod.  After a struggle, I found the box worked best resting on my knees as I sat.
  • Not finding a subject?  In a workshop, focus on the process and not the thing being painted.  If the instructor demonstrated painting trees and would like you to paint one, pick a tree, any tree.    It doesn’t have to be a particularly enchanting tree.  So long as you can apply the process to it, you will do just fine.  When I’m in this situation, I treat it as an exercise. 
  • Having a rotten day in general?  It’s okay if you don’t feel like painting.  When this happens to me, I take a walk and just enjoy the birds and the sunshine.  The day always gets better!

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